A last minute try to front rower Bryce Thomas left the Burleigh Bears stunned and gave Tugun a remarkable 16-14 win at Boyd Street on Sunday.
With two minutes left on the clock and the scores at 12-10, Burleigh received a penalty in front of the sticks and elected to take the two points.
Tugun responded with a short kick-off, a regather, a line break to captain Daniel Webb and eventually a try to Thomas next to the posts with less than 30 seconds remaining.
After the game, Seahawks coach Selwyn Apanui was full of praise for his match-winning front rower.
“He’s a Tugun junior and that was probably one of his toughest games to date,” Apanui said.
“Coming straight out of the 19s, I didn’t know if he was going to be ready for this sort of step up, but he is following in the path of another one of our past front rowers, Chris Kitching, who is now playing Cup (ISC for Burleigh).
“I don’t know if Bryce is quite Skippy’s quality yet, but he’s definitely following in the same footsteps as Skippy.”
It was a wildly entertaining game of football that brought to an end Burleigh’s run of eight consecutive wins.
Tugun opened the scoring in the third minute through halfback Vitori Buatava who sliced through the Burleigh defence.
A Seahawks error in the 25th minute gifted Brad Smith Burleigh’s opening try while Francis Veukiso (who was Burleigh best on the day) put them in front when he charged over five minutes from the break.
Straight after the break the Seahawks cut the margin to just two when Buatava produced a perfectly placed chip kick for Cameron Moran.
From there, the game turned into an arm wrestle.
Tensions had been brewing for some time and they finally erupted in the 46th minute, with Burleigh’s Jesse Malcolm and Tugun’s Travis Berry both sent off for the ensuing brawl.
The Bears had plenty of chances to extend their lead in the second half, but poor handling squandered those opportunities to close out the game.
Eventually the Bears made them pay with Thomas’ last minute try giving the Bears some momentum heading into the finals.
The best player on the field was Tugun hooker and skipper Daniel Webb. His work out of dummy half led to several line breaks and lifted his side in the face of adversity.
“He’s the captain and he’s the leader of the side when the chips are down,” Apanui said of his skipper.
“Even when it could have been easy to throw it in or be negative when we have been struggling, he’s been a tower of strength for the whole team. Not just for the players but for the coaching staff as well.
“Between him and Robert (Apanui), the seniority and the maturity they show is testament to their leadership.
“They’re the ones that have turned this side around and when we were second guessing ourselves. These guys are the ones that stayed positives and believed that we were travelling in the right direction.”
Tugun’s win almost definitely assures them a vital top three finish while Burleigh’s loss sees them slip to second spot.
In other Coast-2-Coast Bycroft Cup results Southport moved to the top of the table with a 56-16 win over the Bilambil Jets, while Runaway Bay and Currumbin kept their semi-finals hopes alive with wins over Cudgen and Tweed Heads respectively.
** Kingfishers win major semi-final
Beaudesert is on the cusp of a third straight Powrgard Cup premiership after defeating minor premiers Mudgeeraba in the major semi on Saturday.
The major semi-final was a classic arm wrestle that saw the scores locked at 4-4 at halftime.
A late try to Sam Lutzke was ultimately the difference as Beaudesert close in on what could be their third straight premiership.
Beaudesert president Shane Coburn said he was pleased with his side’s defensive effort to withstand a late Mudgeeraba surge.
“It means a great deal,” Coburn said of the club’s third straight grand final qualification.
“We’ve had a few struggles over the years and we’re working at rebuilding the club. It showed through our large supporter base that was there last night.
Beaudesert are unbeaten in 2014 and will come into the grand final with confidence and experience on their side.
Senior players Jeremy Papworth, Benny McDonald and the McKenzie brothers, Nathan and Brendan, were all stand outs on Saturday and have been the core of the side for some time.
The likes of Trent Platt and former South Sydney Rabbitoh Germaine Paulson have been great additions this season and were strong as well.
While it will be the players on the field that decide the out, the Beaudesert supporters could be the X-Factor on grand final day.
For the last two seasons the Beaudesert fans have turned up in huge numbers throughout the finals series and the same is expected at Owen Park on August 16.
“We outnumbered the locals again (on Saturday) and it was fantastic to have so much support from the Kingfisher fans,” Coburn said.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t have more people this year than we had at last year’s grand final. We’ve had a few promotions over the last couple of years that we’ll continue and try to get the town painted blue and black for the week leading into the grand final.”
Other results from the first day of Powrgard Cup finals saw Tweed Coast eliminate Runaway Bay while in B Division Ormeau went through to the grand final by defeating Coomera while Parkwood eliminated Nerang.
The second week of Powrgard Cup finals will be held at Les Burger Oval next Saturday August 9.