Capras hold tight to defeat Falcons
RUGBY LEAGUE: An inexperienced Sunshine Coast Falcons side had its faint Intrust Super Cup finals hopes dashed by a resilient CQ Capras outfit after a 26-18 loss at the weekend.
The Falcons had four of its players - Ryley Jacks, Sam Burns, Justin Olam and captain Dane Hogan - withdraw the night before, while the absence of Dave Taylor and Bill Cullen for the Capras robbed the Gladstone match of its star power.
The players who did take the field entertained the Marley Brown Oval crowd with an absorbing contest and one that wasn't decided until the dying minutes.
Leading 12-10 at half-time courtesy of tries to skipper Jack Madden and Blake Goodman, it was the Falcons who started the second half with renewed vigour as they upped their intensity in both attack and defence.
It mattered for little though as the CQ side gained back the ascendency with a try to winger Chanel Seigafo, handing them a 16-10 lead in the 53rd minute.
Refusing to lie down, the Falcons responded five minutes later when Thomas Eisenhuth powered his way over the line despite some heavy attention from the Capras' defence.
The Capras scored their fourth try moments later when Jerry Key crashed over although Connor Broadhurst couldn't extend the lead beyond a converted try, keeping the scoreboard at 20-14 with 15 minutes remaining.
The see-sawing contest continued heading into the final 10 minutes as Iliesa Ratuva crossed for his second try only for Matt Soper-Lawler to miss a difficult conversion attempt from the sideline which kept the Capras ahead by two.
A Falcons' mistake coming out of their own end gifted the Capras a chance to seal the contest, and while they couldn't cross from the resulting set, they did shortly afterwards courtesy of another error from the visitors.
Quick to scoop up the loose ball, the Capras found Seigafo who crossed for his second try to seal the contest after Broadhurst nailed the sideline conversion.
Outgoing Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said the withdrawal of four players "from big brother in Melbourne" didn't help their cause, but refused to use it as an excuse for the eight-point loss.
The reshuffle allowed the visitors to blood some youngsters at ISC level, although it was a move Ingebrigtsen felt backfired with the game on the line during the second half.
"Our motto at the moment is to give some kids under the age of 20 a go so they can play against men which is really good for them and the club's future," Ingebrigtsen said.
"We're happy in that regard and they'll learn a lot from that (match). I thought we had ascendency there and one of our young kids decides to offload when he shouldn't have and the game just turned on its ear.
"They're 18 or 19-year-old boys who don't understand the game yet, they think they do and think they've grown up and understand it, but they'd got no idea and unless they do that they're not going to be long-term Queensland Cup players.
"I thought with eight minutes to go we were still in the contest and could have easily won it, but you've got to credit the Capras who did a really good job.
"I don't think their position on the table belies what they've done this season."
Capras coach Kim Williams was relieved his side didn't throw away a winning lead inside the final 10 minutes after making a habit of it during the season.
"It was bit of a scrappy game and we kept giving them opportunities. I think the way we finished in the last five or six weeks if we've had a close game we've managed to lose those but this week we managed to hang on.
"We had tenacity there, we really have nothing to play for other than personal pride, but this group has set some small goals towards the end of the season and it's good to actually get that win up.
"It's this time of the season you see some other teams really falling away and we could've done that but to this group's credit we knew we were getting close to another win and hopefully we can back that up again next week."
The final round sees the Falcons play away to the ladder-leading Redcliffe Dolphins while the Capras will be looking to deny PNG Hunters a finals spot at Rockhampton's Browne Park.
CQ Capras 26 (Chanel Seigafo 2, Jack Madden, Blake Goodman, Jerry Key tries; Connor Broadhurst 3 goals) defeated Sunshine Coast Falcons 18 (Iliesa Ratuva 2, Jye Ballinger, Thomas Eisenhuth tries; Matt Soper-Lawler goal) at Marley Brown Oval.