By Vincent Holliday
The Sunshine Coast Falcons remain undefeated for a 12th straight weekend after a tense 32-16 win over fellow competition heavyweights the Burleigh Bears yesterday.
The team led 20-0 against one of the best defensive sides in the competition, with halfback Todd Murphy starring for the home side scoring a team high of 20 points, scoring a double and staying flawless with the boot.
Marking the halfway point of the season for the ladder leading Falcons, new head coach Eric Smith said he was comfortably shocked by the team’s clean record but knows there is more work to do.
“It’s a position we probably didn’t predict we would be in before the season started,” Smith said.
“We want to make sure we take full advantage of that in the back half of the season.”
Smith said he was really proud of his team’s effort in defence after some failed attacking raids resulted in constant pressure on the Falcon’s goal line.
“Defence has been a big part of our whole season, and it was highlighted yesterday how hard it is for oppositions to crack our defensive line,” Smith said.
Murphy crossed in the 38th minute for the first of his double which blew the contest wide open going into the break, with the home side leading 14-0.
Smith acknowledged the halfback’s effort to inspire his team after putting himself in a good position to attack with some potency.
“That is what Murphs has been building his game on all season,” Smith said.
Burleigh scored three later tries to even the margin, but the coach was still excited about his young players who stood up once again in the absence of experienced players who have moved onto the National Rugby League.
“It’s good when have had Paps (Ryan Papenhuyzen) and Curtis Scott, but we haven’t had those guys for a while now,” Smith said.
“We have had guys in those positions that have been doing quite a good job for a number of weeks now.”
Twelve months ago, the team was struggling in 11th spot at the halfway mark of the competition with a negative home record of 2-4.
“We have been working hard and trying to improve and not be in that position that we were in last season,” Smith said.
Looking forward to their round 13 away clash against the Tweed River Seagulls who are now placed second in the competition, the excited coach shared his thoughts regarding the upcoming contest.
“They have had a really good season,” Smith said.
“They have been boosted by a few good Titans players.”
Ex-Falcon’s player and former Melbourne Storm representative Ryley Jacks has been a new inclusion for the Tweed side and Smith is not downplaying his impact on their recent string of wins.
“He is directing them around really well and has been good for them,” Smith said.
“It’s going to be a tricky one for us heading down there. We know we need to play well.”