The Wynnum Manly Seagulls stood up to a stern test in their 23-10 win over the NRL laden Sunshine Coast Falcons at Pinklands Sports Complex on Saturday night.
Boasting eight Melbourne Storm first grade squad members, including huge front row pairing in former NSW Origin player Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and 18-year-old young gun Nelson Asofa-Solomona, the Falcons were a much more difficult matchup than recent seasons.
Learoyd-Lahrs and Asofa-Solomona tested the mettle of the vaunted Seagulls pack early in the match, but the Wynnum side lead again by Brendan Gibb, withstood the pressure and raced out to a 16-0 lead at half-time.
Gibb has been sensational over the past month of football, picking up a try and continuing to impress with his repeat efforts in defence and determined runs. Despite a late start due to injury, the middle forward will come under heavy consideration for a Queensland Residents jersey next week.
The Seagulls opened the scoring through the sure hands of fullback Daniel Ogden, who selected the right pass for Greg Eden to score in the left hand corner.
Gibb was next to score when former New Zealand Warriors’ hooker Alehana Mara was too fast out of dummy half, breaking the line and drawing in the Falcons’ fullback to set up his in-form teammate.
Ogden’s attacking potency was on display again when the fullback swept out the back of a backline movement, getting outside the covering defence for the putdown.
After the break the Seagulls made it 22 unanswered points, when burly centre Mitchell Buckett rumbled his way over the line. Halves Matt Seamark and Patrick Templeman combined well in the lead up, with both taking the ball to the line, holding up the Falcons defenders to open up lanes for their outside men.
The Falcons started to get going in the second stanza and the opportunities were all coming from half Ben Hampton and the left edge comprised entirely of Melbourne Storm players.
Travis Robison scored the Falcons first points when Hampton put in a cross field kick for the centre to leap into the air with an AFL inspired ‘specky’, utilising the backs of Seagulls’ defenders for the grab.
After a strong run and quick play the ball by Asofa-Solomona, hooker Billy Brittain used the broken ruck to dart out and set up Johnny Vuetibau for the try under the posts, closing in at 22-10.
However the cool head of Seamark would ice the game for the Seagulls, nailing a composed field goal in the final minutes to remove any hopes of a Falcons’ comeback.
The match was designated as a Falcons home game but was transferred to the Pinklands Sports Complex and the Redlands City crowd was certainly pro-Seagulls as the spectators enjoyed family entertainment, fireworks and a great game of football.
WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 23 (Daniel Ogden, Mitchell Buckett, Greg Eden, Brendon Gibb tries; Matthew Seamark 3 goals; Matthew Seamark field goal) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 10 (Travis Robinson, Johnny Vuetibau tries; Travis Robinson goal) at Pinklands Sporting Complex, Thornlands.
Sunshine Coast Falcons: 20. Young Tonumaipea 2. Callum Klein 3. Rueben Baillie 4. Travis Robinson 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Ben Hampton 7. Brett Doherty 8. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 9. Billy Brittain 10. Jon Platt 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Jake Samoa 13. Johnny Vuetibau 14. Jay Lobwein 15. James Ackerman 16. Ryan Hansen 17. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs
Wynnum Manly Seagulls: 1. Daniel Ogden 2. Peter Gubb 3. Matthew Grieve 4. Mitchell Buckett 5. Greg Eden 6. Patrick Templeman 7. Matthew Seamark 8. Ben Shea 9. Alehana Mara 10. Aaron Rockley 11. Brendon Gibb 12. Jon Grieve 13. Mitchell Frei 14. Olsi Krasniqi 15. John Te Reo 16. Stephen Coombe 17. Tim Natusch (c)