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Easts Tigers have triumphed over University 36 – 27 in a feisty encounter that included two yellow cards and nine tries to remain undefeated and extend their lead at the top of the Strategic Airlines Queensland Premier Rugby competition.
This encounter promised a lot with the inform Easts taking on the reigning premiers for ladder position as well as a psychological edge and it delivered on that promise with both teams playing hard but entertaining rugby.
From the very first ruck the two teams were at each others throats as they each tried to match each other for passion and aggression but it was a piece of individual magic that opened the scoring with Matt Brandon grubbering to himself and crossing the line in the 5th minute.
Not to be outdone, Tom McQueen scored minutes later with a solo chip and chase effort from the half way line.
This was cancelled out minutes later when Easts’ backs combined ball handling skills with electric pace deep in their half to put Easts’ Chris Mansell over in the corner and take the score to 12 - 5.
The fast and high scoring tempo of the game would change from that point as the match progressed into a slog with University consistently piling on pressure and Easts’ defending staunchly and then counter-attacking when the opportunity arose.
Tellingly four tries would be scored by forwards from both teams with Lloyd Campbell-McBride barging over the line twice for Easts on the back of counter attacks and second rower Tim Buchanan and St. George Reds prop Guy Shepherdson managing to muscle over for University.
The intense nature of the game led to Easts twice having a player yellow carded for professional fouls but University weren’t able to fully take advantage as Easts put on a mighty defensive effort each time they were required to.
Easts Coach Pat Richards believes that it was this effort in particular at the team can be most proud of.
“Our attitude was great. We had to play a quarter of the match with 14 men but we worked hard and came out on top.”
Late into the game both teams scored again with Skelton and Tom Cox scoring for Easts and University respectively, but the result by this stage was largely a forgone conclusion though a disallowed try late in the game to University would have made the last few minutes very interesting.
Following the game Richards was taking a cautious interpretation of the result.
“There are areas we need to improve on but obviously were pretty happy with how things have gone for us so far (this season).”
For University coach Mick Heenan it’s all about keeping the lose in perspective.
“It was a tough, high quality game and it’s a good indicator of where we are at but it’s still early in the season.”
Easts 36 (L. Campbell-McBride 2, M. Brandon, C. Mansell, D. Skelton; M. Brandon 4 cons; M. Brandon 1 pen) def University (T. McQueen, T. Buchanan, G. Shepardson, T. Cox; W. Tuffley 2 cons; W. Tuffley 1 pen)
By Peter Dowd
16 FEBRUARY 2019