DECIPHERING Sunshine Coast’s team changes in yesterday’s match programme was harder than picking the nation’s next leader.
Jason Wardrop is tackled in the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles match against Mackay Cutters at Stockland Park yesterday.
With the Sea Eagles missing at least eight regular players, it came down to “Costo’s Charges” to take the field in the last round of the Queensland Cup.
Coach Brandon Costin’s fringe players stepped up to the plate and delivered in emphatic fashion, beating a hapless Mackay side 40-12 to finish third overall and book a home semi-final next weekend.
They’ll be hoping for a repeat performance on Saturday afternoon when the Cutters make the trip back to Stockland Park after finishing sixth.
It was Sunshine Coast’s eighth win on the trot as they strive to repeat last year’s premiership-winning late season form.
Costin said he was particularly pleased with how well his side defended numerous Cutters’ raids.
“They had a really good wind behind them (in the second half) and we made some uncharacteristic errors when we shouldn’t have,” he said.
“They got a lot of field possession and threw a lot at us but we really defended stoically. It was really good to see. It’s a good platform to be building on for here on in.
“Regardless of win, lose or draw, there was things we wanted to achieve today and keeping them to 12 points was one of them and that was great.
“We’d be naive to think there’s not bigger and better things coming next week.”
Sea Eagles’ skipper Daly Cherry-Evans combined with fullback Dennis Sandow to put Mark Page over for the first points after six minutes.
Mackay hit back through Shane Muspratt shortly after, but their joy ended there as Cherry-Evans set up Phil Morwood, Simon Allen and Page for a 24-6 half-time lead.
Young rake Kane Richards broke the line from dummy-half to give the Sea Eagles prime position and winger Tyrone Coppedge crossed one tackle later to stretch Sunshine Coast’s lead to 30-6.
Mackay winger Chris Giumelli breathed life into the match on the back of numerous penalties, but a try to Kyle Lodge sealed the victory for Sunshine Coast.
Page crossed for his hat-trick in the dying minutes after receiving a beautiful flick pass from fill-in centre Jon Muir for the 28-point win.
Page said the comfortable win came on the back of an outstanding performance from the Sea Eagles forward pack.
“We stuck to our process and the front rowers set us up for the wingers to score the tries,” he said.
“The boys coming into the side stepped up when they get the chance. It’s all about opportunities and stepping up to them.
“In that second half we weren’t completing very well. We had to defend our line and to only let 12 points in was great.
“We’ll work on completing our sets. We dropped a lot of ball and gave a lot of penalties away and we’ll assess that during the week.”
SUNSHINE COAST 40
Mark Page 3, Tyrone Coppedge, Kyle Lodge, Simon Allen, Phil Morwood tries; Dennis Sandow 6 goals
Chris Giumelli, Shane Muspratt tries; Josh Hannay 2 goals