Easts stay alive in Tooheys New Cup
September 11, 2005

A 78th minute try to centre Rex Tapuai has seen Eastern Suburbs stay alive in the 2005 Tooheys New Cup, the Beasts downing Warringah 33-31 in a thrilling elimination semi final at Pittwater Rugby Park.

The Beasts crossed for four tries to three, reversing a twelve point second half deficit in the process.

Easts started the more aggressive of the two teams, and a weight of possession led to them opening the scoring through a 5th minute penalty goal to Gavin Debartolo.

The Beasts strong start continued ninety seconds later when Chris Coe went over for the opening try of the match, the flanker handed the easiest of runs to the line after a neatly worked blindside move by number eight Tamaiti Horua and half Luke Burgess.

Trailing 10-nil and yet to hit their stride, the Rats opened their account after a quarter of an hour when a Shane Laloata break paved the way for Clint Eadie to touch down out wide.

Eadie's conversion attempt was unsuccessful however the Rats had found the spark they were searching for.

Another Debartolo penalty put the Beasts out to an eight point lead, while Eadie narrowed it to five once more with one of his own on 26 minutes.

A Lachlan MacKay break on the half hour mark set the scene for the Rats second try, scrumhalf Brett Sheehan sneaking over from the ensuing phase to hand his side the lead for the first time in the match.

Easts missed two golden opportunities to claim it back from the re-start, with a Myles Dorrian break going unrewarded before the breakdown of what seemed certain to be a pushover try.

A third Debartolo penalty saw Easts head into the break leading 16-15, however the advantage would last just 90 seconds after half time as Wallaby Mark Gerrard went over for Warringah's third try.

Eadie converted from out wide to hand the Rats a 22-16 lead, and then added a penalty goal to stretch the lead to nine.

A third Eadie penalty just over twenty minutes from time gave Warringah breathing space at 28-16, however Easts kept in the hunt through an Angus Esselmont try with fifteen minutes remaining.

Trailing by seven, Easts mounted another raid on the Warringah line and came up with the result they was after, hooker Stu Geard crashing over for a converted try next to the posts to level it up at 28-apiece.

With five minutes left on the clock Warringah hit back, a Mark Gerrard penalty goal from 45 metres edging the Rats into the lead once again.

However the Beasts refused to lie down and with just under two minutes of the match remaining they hit the front for the third, and what would prove to be the final time.

Centre Rex Tapuai did the honours, touching down in the corner to hand his side a match winning 33-31 lead, sparking rapturous scenes among the Easts players and supporters.

The win sees Easts book a meeting with Manly in next Sunday's minor semi final at TG Millner Field, while the loss sees the curtain come down on the Rats year.

EASTERN SUBURBS 33 - Chris Coe, Angus Esselmont, Stu Geard, Rex Tapuai tries; Gavin Debartolo 2 conversions, 3 penalty goals.

WARRINGAH 31 - Clint Eadie, Brett Sheehan, Mark Gerrard tries; Clint Eadie 2 conversions, 3 penalty goals; Mark Gerrard penalty goal.

At Pittwater Rugby Park
Halftime: Easts 16-15

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