Cutters too slick for Pride in Thriller

The QCCS Mackay Cutters kept their hopes of an Intrust Super Cup Finals campaign alive with an entertaining 26-18 victory over the Northern Pride at Barlow Park in Cairns.

Despite much of the game being played in a tropical rainstorm, both teams opted to play fast and expansive football, with the Cutters holding out the resurgent Pride in what became a thrilling contest.

Fresh of a club-record victory, Mackay showed their intent early when Kellen Jenner turned defence into attack, fielding an attacking kick in his own in goal and racing 50m before being dragged down.

The play eventually resulted in a repeat set and the Cutters took the opportunity to get on the board first, with Yamba Bowie showing his stunning athleticism to squeeze in the corner after latching onto a brilliant cut-out pass from Nicho Hynes.

The visitors doubled their lead a short time later as Nick Brown got an offload out the back to his support runner in Cooper Bambling. The halfback slipped then through the Pride defence and under the posts.

Ball handling was at a premium midway through the half as the rain intensified, and the Pride were forced to rue a missed opportunity to respond as they dropped the ball cold deep in Mackay territory.

The visitors showed the hosts how it was done on the ensuing set, with beautiful ball movement seeing Jack Joass send Bowie away for his second try with a slick in-out ball; the winger evading the Pride defenders in a 40m dash to the line.

The Pride were finally able hit back in the shadows of halftime, with Nathan Wales grounding a perfectly weighted grubber kick to start the hosts’ resurgence as they headed for the sheds trailing 18-4.

Buoyed by a passionate home crowd who had braved the conditions, the Pride burst out of the blocks in the second half determined to get back into the contest.

Kienan Grogan-Hayes got the Pride rolling with a freakish try, regathering a ricocheted grubber kick out on the wing and planting the ball down millimetre-perfect in the corner.

The Cutters edged themselves ahead with a penalty goal to extend the lead to 10, but Graham Clark brought the Pride back into the contest once more as he powered his way under the posts.

Mackay had proven the better team at handling the greasy conditions, but they were eventually caught out when Jack Joass lost the ball in a solid tackle in his own in-goal for Shawn Bowen to plant the ball down for a try on debut, bringing the Pride to within two points of the lead.

But once again, the conditions got the better of the home side, with the Pride spilling the ball with one-minute remaining.

Aaron Booth then struck one last blow, scoring with a trick play from the resulting scrum as the crafty hooker sliced up the middle of the park and under the posts to remain unbeaten in their past four games.

 

By John Bartley