The Tugun Seahawks paid tribute to a fallen friend with a 24-20 win over the Runaway Bay Seagulls at Boyd Street on Sunday.
Seahawks junior and current team member Chris Kitching tragically passed away in the 24 hours before the game.
Kitching was a Gold Coast Vikings, South-East Queensland and Queensland Rangers representative front row forward and a premiership winner with the Seahawks in 2013.
He went on to join the Burleigh Bears for whom he played the entire 2014 Intrust Super Cup season before returning to Tugun this year.
“It’s been an emotional 24 hours,” Seahawks coach Selwyn Apanui said.
“We had a meeting yesterday and had a chat about it; I left it in the player’s hands to decide whether to play or whether we should call the game off.
“As a club - as three grades of 19s, reserve grade and A Grade - they decided to play the game in Skippy’s honour and they couldn’t have held themselves any better.
“He was a big part of this club and a big part of this community. He was definitely a shining light and he had a lot of blokes that he played with in juniors here at Tugun throughout A-grade and reserve grade.
“He was a great kid who had a lot of presence at the club. The juniors loved him, the kids would be here hi-fiving him and they could see that he was a big, cuddly bear.
“When you think of Tugun you think of guys like Chris Kitching. He bled blue and white. He’s going to be very missed and it still hasn’t sunk in for a lot of the people here.”
On the field Tugun produced a disciplined display to grind out a win.
Against a tough Runaway Bay side featuring former NRL stars Preston Campbell and Clinton Toopi, the Seahawks found a way to win and maintain their spot near the top of the Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup ladder.
Apanui praised the work of Sam Harrold, who was a standout for the Gold Coast Vikings in the representative series last week, and the likes of Tu Whakatihi and Tim Matenga who were strong on the left edge.
“We didn’t give away many penalties today, which was awesome,” Apanui said.
“We kept the ball in motion and we just played tough footy. Runaway Bay is a team on paper that shouldn’t be sneezed at; they’re a really good football side. We knew we had to be up for today’s game 100%, especially after what happened.”
In other Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup results Burleigh thumped Currumbin 66-0 and Tweed kept their unbeaten run alive with a 24-16 win over Southport.
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Tugun Seahawks 24 (Dan Kelly 2, Pat Penny, Dylan Panui tries Sam Harrold 4 goals) def Runaway Bay Seagulls 20 (Jacob Paul 2, Ian Fuaivaa, Joshua Ralph tries Andrew Battese 2 goals)