By Ethan Irvine (Sunshine Coast Falcons correspondent)
The final match of Round 8 in the Hostplus Cup was battle between two of the heavyweights of the competition, with the Sunshine Coast Falcons hosting Brisbane Tigers at a sun drenched Sunshine Coast Stadium.
With Melbourne Storm players and coaching staff watching from the stands, both feeder teams showed their class in the early stages of the game through slick attack and dominant defence. However, the game was being played mostly in the Tigers attacking half.
The Falcons defence paid off as they were rewarded a penalty and given much-needed field possession and in the same set, the first try was. Halfback Daniel Atkinson, who took home Hastings Deering player of the match honours, used his right foot step to score a brilliant individual try and put the Falcons up 6-0.
Momentum began to build for the Falcons as they marched up the field off the kick-off to score back-to-back tries through right side winger Will Warbrick via an Atkinson cut-out ball.
It wasn’t long until the Tigers hit back, as five-eighth Jayden Nikorima put George Fai through a hole for their first try of the afternoon to cut the lead to 12-4.
Just like the Falcons did, the Tigers were able to get themselves to the try-line off the kick-off as their hooker Haele Finau caught the defence lacking and burrowed his way to score.
The conversion by Nikorima put the Tigers behind by two as the score became 12-10.
The end of the half was a grind for both teams going set for set.
The Falcons broke that pattern and scored right before halftime through a rainbow cut-out ball from Jack Wright to winger Jake Maizen. The conversion was missed and the score was 16-10, making it a converted try difference at halftime.
The grind continued into the second half, with both teams not giving up anything in their defence. Each team had their chances, but were not able to capitalise.
The first try of the second half came off a kick to the flying winger Dean Ieremia, jumping high over the Falcons defence to score.
It took 25 minutes into the second half for the first try to be scored and the conversion being missed kept the Falcons up by two.
There were a minimal amount of stoppages in the second half and it took a toll as the players were out on their feet with the game being played hard all the way to the end.
However, with a minute to go, interchange forward Ryan Turner came up with a clutch chargedown which he then collected off the ground.
He ran 20 metres and scored under the posts, sealing the game 22-14 for the Falcons after a hard fought battle.
This win extended the Sunshine Coast’s winning streak to five games and moved them to second on the competition ladder.
Next week, the Falcons will play Northern Pride.
The Tigers will play Norths Devils.