Tweed Heads made sure coach Aaron Zimmerle celebrated his 100th game in charge with a win, upsetting the Norths Devils 34-28 at Bishop Park yesterday afternoon.
After steadily building with improving results during the past few rounds – the visitors finally secured their opening win of the 2017 season, running in six tries to five in a seesawing match.
“We just had to find a way to turn the corner … and they did that,” Zimmerle said after the game. “Hopefully they can take forward.”
Things started well for the Gulls who posted the opening points of the match when Lindon McGrady chased a kick through and got his hands to the ball over the line.
However, Norths hit back almost straight away through the left edge with Matiu Love-Henry reaching out to level the scores at 4-4.
Norths scored the next two tries; the first a scrambling effort completed by Javarn White; while speed was the key for the second after a burst down the left-hand side was finished by Michael Lucas diving over near the corner post.
A penalty to the Seagulls helped them down the field and they make it count, with Damien Sironen crashing over in the 25th minute. The conversion from Michael Burgess narrowed the lead to a converted try in favour of Norths.
While there was some solid defence mid-field from both sides, in the first half it almost seemed like either team just had to make it to the opposition zone to score.
Norths were over again only four minutes later with White darting through for his second, and Todd Murphy’s conversion pushed the home side’s lead out to 22-10.
Some big defence earnt the Seagulls a scrum with two minutes until halftime, and importantly, they took the invitation with Tevita Folau following through on a kick from Sam Saville.
Trailing 22-16 at the break, the Gulls went on the attack to start the second and a towering kick from Lindon McGrady produced a great result for his team.
White strayed onto the touchline when claiming the kick, giving the Seagulls a scrum feed and the resulting play saw a try to Lamar Manuel-Liolevave, following on from a strong run from man mountain Kurt Bernard.
While McGrady’s conversion attempt to level the scores was waved away; that was soon forgotten as Tweed crossed again only three minutes later, with another big man in Ben Nakubuwai making his presence felt.
With the thought of a maiden win pressing down on them, Tweed’s execution while trying to press their advantage let them down, with another error handing the initiative back to the Devils.
Some exciting play saw them spread the ball and it eventuated in a try to Delouise Hoeter who ran inside to score. Murphy again converted for a slim 28-26 lead with 17 minutes to play.
However, while they had been struggling the past few weeks, the Gulls attitude was not in question and a did not give up hope as the clock wound down.
Inspired perhaps by John Asiata’s star turn at halfback for the Cowboys the night before, prop Sironen attempted to put an early kick through – and although the unexpected play did not get through the legs of the defenders; the in the clamber to get to the ball, the Gulls did eventually pass the ball to a more ‘conventional’ kicker who got the ball in behind the defenders.
Although it was a messy follow-through, it proved effective, with Folau touching down for his second and a lead the Gulls didn’t relinquish – instead, adding a penalty goal late in the game to seal the result.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 34 (Tevita Folau 2, Lindon McGrady, Damian Sironen, Lamar Manuel-Liolevave, Ben Nakubuwai tries; Lindon McGrady 4, Michael Burgess goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 28 (Javarn White 2, Matiu Love-Henry, Michael Lucas, Delouise Hoeter tries; Todd Murphy 4 goals) at Bishop Park.