The Romano Group Seagulls yesterday paid the greatest possible tribute to the Tweed Heads premiers of 2007 when they defied their last-placed position on the ladder to beat ladder leaders Redcliffe 21-4 at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
The Gulls of today attended a reunion of the club’s only state league champions the night before the match and watched video of the 28-18 victory against the Dolphins, who were chasing their sixth premiership in their ninth grand final in 11 years.
The inspired side then went out the next day and showed the spirit of ’07 with key players from that title like Brad Davis, Tim Maccan, Nathanael Barnes, Shannon Walker and Matthew Pow looking on. They were comprehensive in their defeat of the surprised Dolphins from the start.
Winger Brayden McGrady crossed in the fourth minute from a shift to the left and in the 15th minute the Seagulls were in again with second-rower Lamar Liolevave latching on to a perfectly weighted grubber into the in-goal from halfback Michael Burgess who put in his most dominant performance of the season.
The Gulls led 14-0 at halftime after weathering an aggressive period of play from the Dolphins in the back end of the first half, with Burgess again the creator from a raid down the short side in the 30th minute finishing with Brayden McGrady crossing for a double. McGrady converted.
Redcliffe crossed in the 50th minute into the second half through Curtis Johnston, but the Dolphin comeback many were expecting did not eventuate as the commitment of the Seagulls defence – aided by their lowest error rate – held firm.
'Errors were overcome by pure desperation'
Tweed were without doubt also greatly guided by their best representation of Gold Coast Titans players all season which included fullback William Zillman in his second match back from a calf injury, XXXX man of the match Eddy Pettybourne who was outstanding up front in his third match back from a long injury stint, centre John Olive, prop Ben Nakubuwai and 20-year-old Max King who returned from injury after impressing as an NRL rookie this season.
“We had 17 players who gave everything they had, there wasn’t a poor performance amongst us and errors were overcome by pure desperation,” coach Aaron Zimmerle said, adding it was the most inspiring performance by his team in 105 matches in the job.
“I’m very proud of them; that’s the greatest win I have been involved in for a bunch of blokes doing it against the very best team in the competition.
“Hopefully it is a kick-start to what we can do for the rest of the season.”
'We just put in for each other'
The only survivor from 2007 premiership-winning side, dreadlocked centre James Wood, said: “That was very special. We’d won one game from 10 and they’d lost two and were top of the table.
“We just put in for each other and we have to not be happy with that and leave it as the best win of the year; we have to put that effort in every week from now.”
The match was still in the balance until the 72nd minute when left winger Peter Lee, who had an up and down day under the high ball, put through a perfect grubber for Lindon McGrady to seal the match at 20-4 after Lindon McGrady’s conversion.
Burgess rubbed salt into the wound with a field goal in the 76th minute.
While the Dolphins were below their best, Broncos-contracted prop Matthew Lodge certainly looked every bit an NRL player as the two packs ripped into each other. Pettybourne led the Seagulls’ charge, Liolevave was outstanding and former Manly prop Carne Doyla-Manga was another who relished the contact in an effort by the Seagulls that was first class across the park.
Brayden McGrady aggravated an ankle injury that has troubled him for a while but the reduction to a three-man bench for the second half didn’t slow their momentum.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 21 (Brayden McGrady 2, Lamar Manuel-Liolevave, Lindon McGrady tries; Lindon McGrady 2 goals; Michael Burgess field goal) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 4 (Curtis Johnston try) at Piggabeen Sports Complex.