Tigers advance to Pride showdown
The Easts Tigers have set up a tantalising grand final qualifier against Northern Pride after holding off Wynnum Manly Seagulls 18-12 in Week One of the Intrust Super Cup finals.
The Tigers were able to atone for their last-minute loss to the Seagulls the previous weekend, coming from 6-4 behind at half-time to book a date with minor premiers Pride in Cairns on Saturday night.
Wynnum Manly will now play Ipswich Jets on Sunday afternoon after they ended the Tweed Heads Seagulls' season with comfortable 28-10 victory at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
Marmin Barba scored one try and kicked three goals for the Jets to hand the disappointing Tweed Heads Seagulls their fourth loss in six games after they previously went through a 12-match unbeaten run during the regular season.
However at BMD Kougari Oval in Wynnum, it was the hosts who jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after lock Mitchell Frei scooped up loose a grubber from five-eight Ben Cronin to score the opener.
The opening exchanges were a hard slog for both sides, but especially for the Tigers who had Richie Kennar, Troy Giess and Dane Hogan all struck down by injury inside the opening 15 minutes.
Kennar and Giess would recover from their knocks, although Hogan was unable to continue due to a rib injury.
When influential Tigers' halfback Cody Walker broke through Wynnum's line on the half-hour mark, he found ISC stalwart Don Malone who raced 40 metres to score.
Walker's halves partner Jacob Fauid missed the easy conversion to keep the scoreboard level at 4-4.
The Tigers then conceded a penalty right on the stroke of half-time with Seagulls' halfback Matt Seamark adding the extras to hand his side a 6-4 advantage heading into the sheds.
A line-break by Cody Walker two minutes after the interval opened up space for the Tigers to exploit allowing Fauid to place a cross-field kick in the direction of Richie Kennar's wing which eventually led to a try by the Tigers' winger, taking the score to 8-6.
Wynnum came close to regaining the lead in the 49th minute when Jake Granville crashed over the line, but the Cowboys-bound hooker lost ball over the line after a video referee consultation.
The Tigers managed to extend their lead in the 62nd minute after Melbourne Storm fullback Cameron Munster crossed out wide due to a misread by Seagulls' defence. Don Malone took over the kicking duties and made no mistake to take the score 14-6.
Eight minutes later Malone added a further two points to extend Easts' lead to 16-6.
The Seagulls were determined to go down fighting and threatened to pull off another comeback victory when a trademark dart from dummy-half by Granville enabled the curly-haired rake to beat two Tigers' defenders to score. Seamark converted to take Seagulls within four points at 16-12 inside the final five minutes.
Wynnum Manly threw everything they could at the Tigers inside the dying minutes but couldn’t fashion another try as the Tigers held on to book a Major Semi-Final showdown with the Northern Pride in Cairns.
Easts Tigers 18 (Donald Malone, Richie Kennar, Cameron Munster tries; Donald Malone 2, Cody Walker goals) def. Wynnum Manly Seagulls 12 (Jake Granville, Mitchell Frei tries; Matt Seamark 2 goals) at BMD Kougari Oval, Wynnum. Half-time: Seagulls 6-4. XXXX Man of the Match: Cameron Munster (Tigers).
For detailed results of the Elimination Semi-Final and draw for Week Two click here.