FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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REDCLIFFE hooker Michael Roberts yesterday ripped the mat from under Easts to master-mind victory in the rugby league Wizard Queensland Cup at Langlands Park.
The Dolphins prevailed 48-22, rushing in five tries in the last 20 minutes after Easts had doggedly turned a 4-16 deficit into a 22-all scoreline after 52 minutes.
Roberts, with fresh legs in the last 20 minutes, engineered three tries to crack an overheating Easts.
He put Adam Starr under the posts, linked with Shane Perry to enable Grant Flugge to score and then handed Perry a try with a dummy half scurry.
Roberts not only directly challenged Easts' defence with his running game but also indirectly livened up halfback Perry.
Prop Pat Gardner, who like Roberts had been rested, also finished strongly, giving Redcliffe tremendous drive down the middle.
The recruitment of Marty Turner, the development of ball-playing Chris Fox, and the form of Roberts, Perry and the dangerous Ryan Cullen gave Redcliffe fleet-of-foot attackers around the ruck.
Redcliffe's homeward surge also coincided with their best ball control of the match when they completed eight of nine sets of six.
Easts, rallied by veteran Darren Smith and sparked by dangerous winger John Tamanika, were not a 26-point inferior side.
It is just that when Roberts pressed the go button on the back of a weight of possession, they had no answers late in the clash.
For Easts, the remarkable Smith returned from retirement to score two tries. Smith owns the right hand side of the field at Easts, but once he moved left of the ruck to sweep onto a Luke Branighan pass and glide over to score to get his team back to 16-10 in the first half.
Then early in the second he was back to his hole-running best on the right side of the field for another four-pointer.
This article is courtesy of the Sunday Mail Queensland number one Sunday paper.