The Gold Coast-Tweed Rugby League opened their Bycroft Cup on Saturday with the inaugural Gala Day at Southport’s Owen Park.
All eight Bycroft Cup teams were in action across the day to get season 2014 underway in style.
The action started at 1pm with the Tweed Seagulls taking on the Bilambil Jets.
In sweltering conditions that had both teams suffering from fatigue by the end the Tweed Seagulls were the better at taking their opportunities and secured a 28-0 win to open the season.
Winger Chris Fleming scored a double while new look halves combination Sam Short and Jacob Neil impressed for the Seagulls.
Tweed lock Chirs Piper picked up player’s player.
“I thought defensively we were pretty good. We didn’t let any tries in,” Seagulls coach Clint Barends said.
“The defence and the way they stuck in together pleased me most. They are a tight bunch so that helps us a fair bit. They’ll go ok if they stay together. “
Bilambil coach Scott Cooke was upbeat after the match saying he was happy with how his men handled the conditions.
“It was always going to be a tough game for us kicking off at 1 o’clock; it was stinking hot,” he said.
“Take the score line away and I was impressed with how we went about things today. We weren’t as clinical as we knew Seagulls were going to be but full credit to our boys.
“I thought they hung in there, they did as good as they could on the day. It was a shame to lose, but I can wear that if our effort is there.”
Next up was two of the more intriguing teams in the Bycroft Cup this year.
The Cudgen Hornets are a young team that were impressive in the pre-season nines going all the way to the final.
Runaway Bay on the other hand were wooden spooners in 2013 but recruited heavily in the offseason and look set to be contenders this year.
Cudgen could not have started the game any better scoring three tries in the opening 20 minutes.
They looked structured and organised and playmakers Dylan Sutton and Shaun Nipperess along with fullback Jake Sands were very impressive.
It was 16-0 in favour of the Hornets in a short period of time but once the Bay clicked into gear it was one-way traffic.
Their distinct size advantage across the park came into play as the game wore on and their forwards rumbled up the field.
Winger Unaloto Pitta picked up three tries while former Kiwi international Clinton Toopi picked up a double on the way to a 36-16 win.
“All we needed to do was hold onto the footy. We turned it over plenty of times early and they had a lot of shots at our line. We just had to control the ball to get back in it,” Bay player-coach Jace Van Dijk said.
“It took us a while to get going and Cudgen played some really good footy in that first twenty minutes. They’ve got a couple of really good young halves and they threw so very good footy at us so we had to do a bit of defending.”
The third game of the day saw the Burleigh Bears defeat Currumbin Eagles 36-10.
It was an impressive performance across the park by the Bears with prop Jerry Nia and second rower Dane Clarke winning praise from their coach for their work rate and intensity.
But the stars of the day were Burleigh’s left hand side attack. Winger Waka Wanahi and centre Corbin Kiernan both scored hat-tricks several of which were from long range.
“They stood out,” Bears coach Wayne Forbes said of his men on the left flank.
“In our A-grade squad we’ve got about 26 players which means there was eight or nine players that went down to reserve grade, most of those players are outside backs.
“So during the week it was a bit of a wakeup call for the boys that there is competition for your spot. Those guys going back to reggies are quality players and would play A-grade in most sides, so if you want your spot, go out there and show it and they did that today.”
The final match of the day was a grand final replay between the Southport Tigers and the Tugun Seahawks and it did not disappoint.
It was as physical and fiery as has come to be expected when these sides face off and a second half shut out saw the Tigers storm home to a 36-18 win.
The Seahawks started the stronger racing to an early 12-0 lead, but the Tigers wouldn’t go away.
At halftime the Seahawks led 18-14 but the Tigers were too good in the second half and outlasted Tugun to grab a first up win.
“The pleasing thing out of that is we came back from 12-0 down and they showed some character and Tugun didn’t score a point in the second half,” Tigers coach Steve Dowd said.
“It’s always a physical game against Tugun. There is respect there but there is no love lost when it comes to football.
“We’re just going to grow as a side and our combinations and our decision making will come in time.”
Dowd said second rower Dean Vinson, hooker Mick Esdale and centre Jesse Richardson were among his best.
Tugun coach Selwyn Apanui said his men will be better for the run.
“I’m very happy with some of the kids,” he said.
“We had five debutants tonight so I’m extremely happy with how they handled their first A-grade game.
“We’ll be a lot better next week and better for the run. Tonight we learned not to get caught in the emotion, to just stick to the game plan and be repetitive. Sometimes being boring can win games. That’s what some of our young kids need to learn.”
Apanui said Mark Goodwin and Keanu Te Kiri had impressive displays.
Tweed Heads Seagulls 28 (Chris Felming 2, Jarrod McDonald, Sam Short, Ricardo Parata tries Parata 4 goals) def Bilambil 0
Runaway Bay Seagulls 36 (Unaloto Pitta 3, Clinton Toopi 2, Matthew Grundy, Jarred Mariner tries Mariner 4 goals) def Cudgen Hornets 16 (Brock Foggo, Jake Sands, Ray Hubbard tries Sands 2 goals)
Burleigh Bears 36 (Waka Wanahi 3, Corbin Keirnan 3, Dimitri Pelo, Kevin Nilan tries Wanahi 2 goals) def Currumbin Eagles 10 (Luke Bryant, Nathan Cottom tries Corey Gerhardt goal).
Southport Tigers 36 (Ben O’Connor, James Barker, Jesse Richardson, Mick Esdale, Kenny Hemopa, Wa Waenga, Hirini Robin tries Mick Davis 4 goals) def Tugun Seahawks 18 (Tim Donohue, Joel Sykes, Keanu Te Kiri tries Te Kiri 3 goals)
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