Falcons chase own Queensland Cup fairytale

Sunshine Coast coach Craig Ingebrigtsen can see the appeal of a Papua New Guinea Queensland Cup fairytale, but insists his side has a story worth telling too.

The Falcons will feature in Sunday’s grand final against the PNG Hunters, who are the feelgood hit of the competition after storming to their maiden minor premiership.

There is talk of the country one day being home to an NRL side, a concept recently endorsed by the likes of Matthew Johns and James Graham.

But the Falcons boast superb recent form and a history of heartbreak to drive a finals run that is worthy of its own fairytale finish.

The club was rocked by the 2015 death of forward James Ackerman in a tackle gone wrong, just as they were recovering from what was a 36-game losing streak a year earlier.

Not much had gone right for the club since winning the 2009 premiership, when they were known as the Sea Eagles, affiliated with Manly and powered by the hulking Tony Williams.

Now linked to the Melbourne Storm, Ingebrigtsen’s Falcons have backed up last year’s preliminary final exit with a berth in the decider.

“We’ve been through a hell of a lot,” the coach said.

“PNG have a country following them, but we’ve had a death of a player two years ago, and a 36-game losing streak before that.

“There’s a hell of a lot of passion there.”

The Falcons know they are up against the might of an entire country, with more than 10,000 tipped to stream through the Suncorp Stadium gates on Sunday.

Most of them will be PNG supporters, although a strong Sunshine Coast contingent will make the trip down the highway.

Sunshine Coast disposed of Redcliffe 40-14 last weekend to book a finals berth, while PNG had the week off.

“They’re a great footy side, they’ve done remarkably to be in this position,” Ingebrigtsen said of the Hunters.

“It’s been a long, hard journey for our club but whichever side wins is fantastic for the game up here.”

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