‘ Niggle’ trap fires players in nailbiter
Two early tries through Malone and playmaker Shaun Nona got Easts to a 10- 0 lead inside the first five minutes, although Glenn Hall got Townsville on the board soon after with a powerful run to the tryline.
The hosts hit back to lead 16- 6, but Thorby barged over to get Townsville’s second to close the gap, and Kyle Feldt soared over in the corner to give the Blackhawks an equaliser.
Michael Parker- Walshe scored the first of his three tries less than 10 minutes before half- time, giving Townsville a 22- 16 lead, but the floodgates remained shut this time, with Easts recovering with two tries to have a 28- 22 buffer at the break.
The drama stepped up in the second stanza, with Pangai put on report early in the piece, and the ill- feeling continued with sporadic flare- ups for the rest of the game.
When Thorby was stretchered off and prop Liam Taylor scored for Easts with less than 30 minutes remaining, Townsville had a mountain to climb trailing 34- 22, but a quickfire double from Parker- Walshe – one try coming from a great sideline run and grubber from Zac Santo – got the Blackhawks back on level terms.
A great finish from Santo then appeared to hand Townsville a remarkable win, only for Malone to steal a draw for the fifth- placed Tigers.
The Blackhawks will look to get back on track in what will be a tough test against the Hunters over in Papua New Guinea next round.