Wests Inala coach Kenny Hill was a relieved man after his Panthers side’s great escape against a gutsy Wynnum Juniors side.
In absolutely freezing conditions, it was Wynnum who were the more determined team for most of this match and looked set to take the spoils, however a never say die attitude from Inala sparked a comeback that would eventually see them go home with the much needed two points following the 12-10 win.
Inala took a confident stride towards a finals berth with the much needed win that sees them sit equal fourth with Redlands and just outside the top three. Wynnum ever courageous, were left ruing at the one that got away and a clearly disappointed coach Ron Troutman will have to execute a well devised game plan next week if he wants the Seagulls to stamp their authority come finals time.
The Seagulls were absolutely brutal in defence in the opening exchanges with prop Ngarima Pete leading the charge with some devastating shots and backed up by Anthony Cuskelly and Mani Mani who laid the platform for the Seagulls first try with some huge metres.
The first try of the afternoon belonged to Wynnum and it was Seagulls brilliant five eighth Dean Layfield who sent his halfback Eteuati Togiatomai through a gaping hole to go over unscathed. A missed conversion in the tricky blustery conditions from Layfield could not add to the score and it was 4-0 early on to the Gulls.
With Inala in no mood to be bossed around, they too clicked into gear after a few positional changes by coach Hill and it was lock Bruce Kolio and second-rower Jesse Chubb who rolled the sleeves up and had a dig at the Seagulls defence and the collisions between both sides sent shivers down the crowds spines as both teams were desperate for the win.
Inala hit back with their first try and will probably be the try of the year in the Second Division when influential Panthers five eighth Kyle Gibson raced 50m upfield as he burst through the Seagulls defence, stepped Wynnum’s winger off the left foot, came to the Gulls fullback and beautifully chipped over his head and regathered to score. It was truly a memorable try and my pick of the try of the season. With Gibson converting his own try it was Inala in the lead 6-4 at the halftime break.
The game developed into a midfield battle in the second half; however some cheap penalties to Wynnum presented them with a good attacking opportunity in the Panthers red zone and in the 59thminute, Seagulls halfback Togiatomai bagged a double when he raced in to score under the posts. Layfield slotted the easy conversion and saw the Seagulls take the lead 10-6 in front of a very vocal crowd.
A glut of drop balls and penalties started to creep into the game in the latter stages of the game, but it did not stop both sides from hammering away at each other up the middle. For Wynnum tireless hooker Hanley was superb out of dummy half and fullback Ben Davey was slashing running the ball back into the Panthers defence. Inala’s kicking was simply brilliant with halfback Graham Mason executing some towering bombs in the swirling wind.
Wynnum nearly went in with two minutes left on the clock and wrap up the game when Layfield dived through the Panthers defence only to have been ruled to have knocked on over the line by the referee.
With the time ticking away on the scoreboard and Wynnum looking certain victors, but it took some Panthers magic after Graham Mason who fired out a beautiful pass to find centre Jack Tamamasui who raced away to score sending the Inala supporters in raptures. Mason magnificently landed the sideline conversion to have the Panthers get away in a thriller 12-10.