Separated by more than 500 kilometres, Saturday night's XXXX Rivalry Round clash between Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland was hardly a meeting of cross-town rivals but at Stockland Stadium this fledgling rivalry between the locals and the Rockhampton-based Capras entered another chapter in its short history.
After trouncing the Falcons 54-0 in the corresponding Rivalry Round fixture last season, a new-found sense of optimism swept local fans before kick-off as the hosts looked to continue on from their solid display against PNG in Round 8 when they pushed the highly-fancied Hunters all the way, eventually going down 16-4.
The locals also had a recent run of good form against Central at their home ground, having not lost to the Capras there since 2010 but it came crashing down to earth with the Capras inflicting a 36-0 drubbing.
It was one of two blow-outs in Rivalry Round with Beau Henry doing his chances of an NRL recall this weekend no harm in steering Tweed Heads to a 28-0 shut-out of Burleigh at Pizzey Park, Henry scoring a try and kicking two goals with Tom Merritt also grabbing a hat-trick.
Ipswich maintained their place level with Northern Pride at the top of the table with a grinding 18-10 win over Souths Logan, Pride held off a spirited Cutters outfit 22-18, Norths Devils defeated Easts Tigers 18-14 in an entertaining encounter and Wynnum won the battle of the bay, 22-16 winners over Redcliffe.
On a dry, but cool night on the Sunshine Coast, where the first signs of the impending winter months greeted spectators not sheltered from the chilly westerly breeze, conditions were perfect for rugby league.
After pinning the Capras down on their own goal line as a result from an early attacking raid, the Falcons failed to reciprocate their strong offensive effort in the defensive department, which led to the visitors scoring the opening try. From dummy-half Capras' centre Marco Delapeno raced through some lackadaisical defence in the middle of the ruck to find an unmarked Marlon Doak, who had little to do other than run the remaining 50 metres to plant the ball down adjacent to the posts. Five-eighth Mark Johnstone missed a relatively simple conversion attempt, keeping the score at 4-0 after seven minutes.
The Capras soon doubled their lead in the 19th minute after a sweeping backline move allowed fullback Reece Baker to cut into the Falcons' defensive line and reach out with one hand to slam the Steeden over the line.
The hosts soon stemmed the flow of points against them and slowly developed a foothold on the game, enjoying the majority of field position and possession, but continued to struggle when it came to fifth-tackle options. Despite the Sunshine Coast's dominance with ball in hand, the Capras were rewarded for their patience in defence with a try just before half-time.
From close range, a lovely, flat cut-out pass by Johnstone was greeted by Delapeno who crossed out wide. Utility Brent Crisp took over conversion duties and made no mistake, ensuring that the Capras would take a 14-0 lead heading into the sheds.
From the restart, it only took the visitors two minutes to cross for their fourth try after winger Rhys Williams scooped up a loose grubber kick to score near the sideline for an 18-0 lead with plenty of time for the Falcons to mount a comeback.
However any chance of the Falcons flying back into the contest evaporated 10 minutes later when the Capras scored back-to-back tries. A short-side raid by Central led to the ball being toed through by Delapeno and collected by a grateful Doak, who scored under the posts for his second try, taking the score to 24-0.
From the kick-off restart, the Falcons committed a cardinal sin when they were penalised for being in front of the kicker, therefore handing the Capras a penalty on halfway. From the resulting set, it was all too easy for Central as Doak and Delapeno combined again to hand the Philippines-born centre his second try, which was converted by Crisp to blow the lead out to an insurmountable 30 points.
Five minutes later the Capras scored their seventh try when the nippy Delapeno crossed for his hat-trick after cutting through the Falcons' defence with consummate ease. The successful conversion by Crisp took the score to 36-0 heading into the final 20 minutes.
From that point onwards the Capras took the foot off the gas as the Falcons lifted their intensity. The Rivalry Round clash soon lived up to expectations with a series of scuffles around the ruck due to some niggle in the play-the-ball area.
With victory firmly out of reach, the Falcons directed all their energies into crossing for a four-pointer. However, as the case has been throughout the majority of their matches this season, wastefulness in their attacking third proved to be their achilles heel as they toiled hard, but couldn't muster what was required to post points on the scoreboard.
The 36-point loss handed the Falcons the unenviable achievement of equalling the competition record for most consecutive losses. The Sunshine Coast is now stuck on 28 straight defeats, which has not been achieved since the Logan Scorpions set the record over the 2001-02 seasons.
The task in snapping that losing streak doesn’t get any easier for the Falcons, as they travel to Mackay this Saturday to take on defending premiers, the Cutters.
Central Queensland Capras 36 (Marlon Doak 3, Marco Delapeno 2, Rhys Williams, Reece Baker tries; Brent Crisp 4 goals) def. Sunshine Coast Falcons 0 at Stockland Stadium, Kawana. Half-time: 14-0 Capras.
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