Easts claim minor premiership

A FAST-FINISHING Magpies have claimed the minor premiership and sent a message to their BRL rivals ahead of finals time.

Easts scored three tries in the last 20 minutes to snatch a 40-34 win and the minor premiership from Isis Devils at Salter Oval on Saturday night. The Magpies looked dead and buried midway through the second half when Isis established a 34-22 lead.

But a combination of handling and disciplinary errors allowed Easts into prime field position and they proceeded to whittle away the lead with ease.

Errors were the theme of the night and any team able to hold the ball for consecutive sets found the tryline. It was a fact acknowledged by Easts' player-coach Josh Garden, but he was thrilled with the win regardless.

“It was a great effort to hang in there like we did. I think most of the people at the ground thought we were out of it, but the boys stuck in there,” he said.

“Errors dominated the game and we know we have some work in front of us to limit those.”

Easts started the better side, jumping to a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.

But for the next 50 minutes it was all Isis, who suddenly stopped dropping easy ball and giving away pointless penalties.

They chalked up 22 points before the half-time hooter sounded, taking a 22-16 lead to the sheds.

Easts' centre Nigel Shields – who may have had one ear on the NDRL grand final score to see how his 2009 team Gin Gin were travelling – was first to cross in the second half and the conversion locked the scoreline at 22-22.

Both teams' defensive lines opened up after that, but Isis were most effective, scoring twice more for what looked a decisive lead.

To coach David Jones's disgust though, they fell away again and Easts finished the stronger team.

The minor premiership gives Easts the edge, but the tight nature of the competition means they are taking nothing for granted.

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