Tweed Heads have won back-to-back games for only the second time this season following a hard-fought 24-20 win over finals contenders Mackay Cutters at Piggabeen on Sunday.
The win saw the Seagulls side move a game clear of 11th placed Sunshine Coast and provided a swift blow to Mackay’s finals ambitions, dropping to seventh after consecutive defeats to lower-ranked sides.
Continuing on from last weekend’s upset victory over Wynnum Manly, Seagulls coach Aaron Zimmerle was rapt with his youthful side’s ability to grind their way to victory.
“We’ve accepted that as a young group we have to get into a position to win and make sure we capitalise when we do,” Zimmerle said.
“We trailed by two points late in the game and managed to get the win in the end by staying relaxed and sticking to what we train for.”
The Seagulls started the better of the two teams and commenced proceedings when the competition’s leading try-scorer Nathanael Barnes capitalised on an awkward bounce in front of Cutter’s fullback Sam Clune to score in the corner.
The visitors struck back immediately following a bullet cut-out pass from Liam Taylor putting Ben Jones into space. The winger returned the ball inside to Taylor who eclipsed the 100-point mark for the season in scoring the Cutter’s first try of the day.
The remainder of the second half belonged to the visitors. A dash for the line from dummy-half saw Josh Chudleigh score his 14th try of the season and open up a six-point buffer at halftime.
A barnstorming run from centre Justin Tavae extended the Mackay-based team’s advantage to 10 points just two minutes after the restart.
Returning from six-weeks on the sideline with an ankle injury, Jamal Fogarty displayed sublime skill and speed to break Mackay’s line and score in the corner before Jai Ingram levelled the scores at 14-14 three minutes later.
With sixth-spot on the line and substantially larger forwards, Mackay were never going to lie down and regained the lead just after the hour mark when Zack Walker touched down in the corner.
Barnes’ second four-pointer of the day set-up a grandstand finish 13 minutes from fulltime. The comeback was complete when Blake Anderson capped off an inspiring performance with try to seal the 24-20 victory.
Zimmerle credited his team’s discipline and versatility as the key to the victory.
“We’ve had to move a lot of players around in the last fortnight,” Zimmerle said. “We’re thin in the middle with size, but we’ve really stepped up.
“Players like Blake Anderson and Dane Clarke had terrific performances battling larger players like Steve Rapira.
“If we’re able to close out performances like that next season, we’ll win the close ones.”
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 24 (Nathanael Barnes 2, Blake Anderson, Jamal Fogarty, Jai Ingram tries; Jamal Fogarty 2 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 20 (Justin Tavae, Zack Walker, Liam Taylor, Josh Chudleigh tries; Liam Taylor 2 goals) at Piggabeen Sports.
Tweed Heads Seagulls:
1. Ali Grant 2. Nathanael Barnes 3. James Wood (c) 4. Tim Cassidy 5. Leva Li 6. Shaun Carney 7. Sam Foster 8. Will Bugden 9. Sam Meskell 10. Oliver Percy 18. Ethan Price 12. Blake Anderson 13. Sam Saville 14. Ricardo Parata 15. Jamal Fogarty 16. Dane Clarke 17. Jai Ingram
1. Sam Clune 2. Blake Atherton 3. Ben Jones 4. Justin Tavae 5. Zack Walker 7. Cameron Cullen 6. Liam Taylor 8. Sam Hoare 9. Josh Chudleigh 20. Pulou Vaituutuu 13. Chris Gesch (c) 14. Aleki Falepaini 12. Tyson Martin 10. Steve Rapira 18. Brad Lupi 17. Mitch Day 11. Braden Uele