The 15 minutes with massive ramifications on Cutters' season
A FOUR-TRY blitz inside 10 first-half minutes undermined what was otherwise a fantastic Intrust Super Cup contest between the Mackay Cutters and Sunshine Coast Falcons today.
In a match few expected the Cutters to win, the hosts threw everything and the kitchen sink at the 18-1 Falcons but fell short 28-14 at BB Print Stadium.
Cutters coach Steve Sheppard felt his side handled themselves well early in the piece, but in typical Falcons fashion the visitors' devastating 15-minute spell proved the difference.
"The plan was to weather the storm. They usually come out and blow teams off the park. We got past that 10-minute period, but the next 15 they put four tries on and got out to a good lead,” Sheppard said.
"I didn't think the game was out of (reach). I knew we were capable if we stuck to it. We did well to regain momentum and I thought we were close to the better side for the rest of the game.”
Sheppard was left scratching his head over some "inconsistent” calls from the match officials, notably in the second half, as Mackay pressed to close the gap on the Falcons.
"We were a bit unlucky I thought. There were a couple 50/05 calls we didn't get . . . I'm not saying that's the difference, but we'd just like a bit of consistency there so we can give it a red hot crack,” he said.
The Cutters held sway in the opening five minutes and found first points when Carlin Anderson converted a penalty from directly in front, but it was the Falcons who found the line first through winger Jon Reuben.
Caleb Daunt crossed soon after and Tom Rafter in the ensuing set, before Daunt made it a double on 20 minutes to push the margin beyond 20 points.
Cutters five-eighth Lloyd White stemmed the bleeding when he crossed three minutes before the break.
Mackay appeared destined to go into the sheds with another on the stroke of halftime, only for the video referee to rule double movement on the final play of the half.
"If we could have scored there and gone into halftime 24-14 with that momentum I reckon would could have put a bit of a dint into them,”
If the first half was frustrating, the second was scintillating for Cutters fans.
The defensive inconsistencies which plagued Mackay for much of the first 40 minutes vanished in the latter, and after Carlin Anderson pounced on a loose ball on the hour mark a parochial home crowd began to find its voice.
For much of the second half Mackay proved the better side, but as has been the case for much of the season, the Cutters were unable to convert field advantage to points.
It came back to rue them when, having absorbed the Mackay pressure, the Falcons made the most of a rare foray forward to send Reuben over on the right edge on the stroke of full time.
Sheppared praised the vocal home crowd for getting behind their team when the game was up for grabs in the second half.
"I usually sit in my box and can't hear much of it. I was behind the posts today and I enjoyed it - the crowd was really good and I think the boys responded to it,” he said.
For all the praise over their performance, the Cutters' loss makes the finals maths that much harder.
Sheppard's men must win their final three games and hope other results go there way to play in the post-season.
Intrust Super Cup Round 20
Sunshine Coast Falcons 28 (J. Reuben 2, C. Daunt 2, T. Rafter tries; T. Murphy 4 goals) def Mackay Cutters 14 (L. White, C. Anderson tries; C. Anderson 3 goals) at BB Print Stadium Mackay