Gulls push Knights in trial
There will be little rest for the Seagulls’ Intrust Super Cup squad after a creditable effort against Newcastle Knights at Murwillumbah on Saturday, with all three senior grades – Cup, A Grade and Under 20s – facing Burleigh Bears this Saturday at Firth Park.
Gulls coach Aaron Zimmerle was more than pleased with the effort of his side in keeping the Knights, containing several NRL players led by former NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson, to a 38-22 defeat.
Yet he is looking for improvement in the remaining two trials, against NRL feeder clubs the Bears (Titans) and Souths Logan (Broncos).
Down 28-6 at halftime in difficult heat at Stan Sercombe Oval, the Gulls fought back well to win the last two 20-minute quarters 16-10 with several positive signs evident – more size in the pack compared to last season and improved depth. The hard work in training at Palm Beach Currumbin High School has put most of the squad in good physical condition.
Certainly, the Gulls will have more ‘oomph ‘up front with Titans contracted players Kurt Bernard and Ben Nakubuwai, a Petero Civoniceva lookalike on the field, showing tremendous potential.
Add to that the raw ‘work in progress’ of Fijian wrecking ball Tikiko Noki, and there is good depth of size and power up front.
“It was pleasing that we hung in there in the second half of the game and the boys handled the level against NRL company pretty well,” Zimmerle said.
“Having the size and aggression there really made a difference. We lacked size last year; we were filled with workers; but didn’t have the ability to hurt the opposition.
“But Benny and Kurt showed they are going to physically hurt their opponents.”
Back-rower Lamar Liolevave, signed from Canterbury, showed why he was chosen to debut for Wests Tigers as a 20-year-old and was a two-season Junior Kiwi with a tremendous debut against the Knights and he is going to be a major addition to the side.
Dane Clarke was another excellent performer at lock in a solid team effort. The Knights led 12-6 at quarter-time, 28-6 at halftime and 28-16 at three-quarter-time.
Newcastle Knights 38 def Tweed Heads Seagulls 22 (Gillham, Folau, Bernard, Sheridan tries; Burgess 2, Meskell goals)
This weekend, the task doesn’t get much easier for the extended senior squad against a Bears outfit, the reigning Cup holders, who began their pre-season with a 30-22 win against Easts Tigers who have recruited strongly for 2017.
The Bears have former Titans, Knights and Storm NRL prop Matt White in their side this season, but team that is without Cameron Cullen (Manly), Jamal Fogarty (Parramatta) and Paterika Vaivai (Titans) who have progressed to the NRL, but will still be strong.
This Saturday’s match details are below.
Saturday, February 11, Firth Park, Mudgeeraba
Tweed Heads Seagulls v Burleigh Bears
4pm: Under 20s
5:30pm: A Grade
7pm: Intrust Super Cup