Rugby league can be a wonderful game, however it can also be a cruel one and that was on display yesterday when Wynnum Manly travelled to Suzuki Stadium for their clash with the Easts Tigers.
The Seagulls were hoping to celebrate popular winger Peter Gubb’s 100th Intrust Super Cup game with a win and in so doing, register their first win for 2016.
However, it was not to be as the home side showed great character to claim a 30-18 win.
The Tigers did not escape the cruelty though, with the victory coming at a huge cost. Strike weapons Ash Little (Achilles), Michael Kai (leg) and Jeremy Hawkins (hamstring) all suffered serious injuries that could see them miss long periods.
Wynnum Manly thought they had the first try of the day to Daniel Ogden, however it was called back for a forward pass and that was as close as they would get in the first half.
The Tigers forwards, led by Dane Hogan, Dean Britt and club debutant (but rugby league veteran) Matt White, were far too strong and made meters at will.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Jeremy Hawkins collected a lovely pass from Brentt Warr and running an outside in line, beat the drifting defence to score beside the posts. Billy Walters converted for a 6-0 lead.
Suliasi Vunivalu was the next to score in the 24th minute as he displayed the pace and power he is becoming known for. Walters converted and the Tigers had extended their lead to 12-0.
In only his second Intrust Super Cup game, Guy Hamilton showed a cool head to position Walters for the next try. It began when Warr put up a lovely chip kick which Hamilton swooped on and realising that he would not make line himself; he committed Wynnum fullback Patrick Templeman and, at the last possible moment, passed to Walters who scampered 20m to score in front of the scoreboard to take the lead to 16-0.
Vunivalu was at it again in the 39th minute, taking the ball from dummy half and beating four defenders in a powerful 30m charge to the try line. The kick was waved away and the Tigers took a commanding 20-0 lead to the break.
Jon Buchannan’s half time message to his troops was sharp and pointed – they were better than us in every aspect of the game and we must improve.
His charges responded in style, with tries to Stephen Coombe (43rd minute) and Patrick Templeman (47th minute). The Templeman try in particular was a beauty with Mathew Seamark running to the line and bringing the defence to him, before popping the pass back to Templeman who had inserted himself into the attack at just the right time.
Seamark converted both tries and within 10 minutes, Wynnum Manly had reduced the deficit to 20-12.
With the injuries suffered in the game, the Tigers had used up their last interchange in the 50th minute, meaning the 13 players on the field would have to battle out the remainder of the half without respite.
Wynnum kept pushing in search of their win and in the 60th minute, former NZ Warrior Alehana Mara (wearing the number 3, but playing dummy half) darted over. Seamark converted to bring his side within a sniff at 26-18 – but Tigers centre Jamie Anderson extinguished their hopes with an impressive try.
Tigers coach Scott Sipple will be sweating on the return of injured players Shane Neumann and Javarn White to compensate for the players injured this weekend as he prepares his team for a tough road trip to Cairns.
Though outclassed, the Seagulls never stopped trying; with Jon Grieve, Alex Barr and Gubb amongst their best. They will all need to be at their best next week as they too are on the road to Ipswich.
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EASTS TIGERS 30 (Suliasi Vunivalu 2, Jeremy Hawkins, Billy Walters, Matthew White, Jamie Anderson tries; Billy Walters 3 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 18 (Stephen Coombe, Patrick Templeman, Alehana Mara tries; Mathew Seamark 3 goals) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.