It was another case of so close for Easts Tigers as they pushed the fancied Northern Pride to the limit in their 26-16 defeat at Langlands Park.
Trailing 20-6 in the latter stages of the second half, Easts finished with a roar and managed to claw back to within four points. However, as was the case last week, mistakes late in the game cruelled what could have been a memorable victory against the defending premiers.
Tigers assistant coach Craig Ingebritsen again praised his side's effort but lamented poor discipline when the match was there for the taking.
"They're the benchmark and we got to 20-16 behind with a couple of minutes to go. We were all over them and then (we make) one error and the game goes from a four point to a ten point deficit," he said.
Earlier, the Pride exploded out of the blocks with a try in the opening five minutes to hooker Jason Roos before former State of Origin back Ty Williams capitalised on a backline spread to make the scoreline 10-nil.
The remainder of the half was a gritty affair - the Tigers had the ascendency field position wise but struggled to crack the visitor's defence.
A Steven Thorpe break started the second half in the right fashion for Easts but the Pride extended their lead when slippery half Ryan Ghietti took on the line and snuck over.
However, the Tigers pounced when Kev Stephensen, who was a late call up for Elijah Niko, produced the try of the match. Centre Liam Campbell showed great pace to fly down the left flank before chipping over the fullback for a speedy Stephensen.
But the Pride extended their advantage through a Brett Anderson four-pointer which set a seemingly out of reach 20-6 lead with 15 minutes to play. However, an unexpectedly thrilling finish was to unfold.
Easts broke the Northern Pride line under the posts thanks to a surge from Matt Zgrajewski, before a brilliant one-on-one steal from hooker Geoff Holcombe thwart a certain Pride try. The home side then travelled then length of the field in one set before Stephensen flew high to catch a Matt Minto bomb, sparking raucous celebrations in the stands.
With the scoreboard reading 20-16, Easts were coming home with a wet sail but an ill-timed dropped ball five minutes from fulltime snuffled the momentum.
That invitation was all the Pride needed - prop Luke Harlen crashed over from close range to douse any chance of a Tigers miracle.
Easts are yet to notch a win this season but have been in potentially winning positions in each game in the opening three weeks.
"We need to have some faith in our process because we are very close. But we are staying positive and the players are staying positive and on task. If we can grind out a win somewhere we'll be ok," Ingebritsen said.
In injury news, Paoa Faamita tweaked him hamstring in the early stages and faces a number of weeks on the sideline.
Easts Tigers - 16
Tries: Kevin Stephensen 2, Matt Zgrajewski
Goals: Matt Minto 2
Northern Pride - 26
Tries: Brett Anderson, Ty Williams, Ryan Ghietti, Jason Roos, Luke Harlen
Goals: Chey Bird 3
Easts Colts break the line in their 48-4 demolition of Wests
FOGS A Grade
The reserve grade side suffered a heavy 36-0 loss to the Wests Panthers, who only lead 8-nil at the break but piled on five tires in the second half. As the scoreboard suggests the Tigers were never really in the contest which was, at stages in the first stanza, quite fiery.
Easts - 0
Wests - 36 (Jordan Mitchell, Ben Cleary, Austin Lufe, Francis Renouf, Liam Tyson, Warren Jensen tries; Liam Tyson 6 goals)
Easts' Colts rebounded from a thrashing by Redcliffe last Saturday to dish out some punishment of the own in a 48-4 victory over their Wests counterparts. Jack Joass crossed for a hat-trick to take his season tally to five in just three matches - the rookie was again dangerous from the fullback position.
Easts - 48 (Jack Joass 3, Jason Brechin 2, Sam Robinson, Daniel Gillen, Jonathon Stewart, Ayrton Sandbrook tries; Jack Joass 6 goals)
Wests - 4 (Henry Ah Sam try)
Easts website is thetigers.com.au
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