A star studded Easts Tigers side were made to dig deep to earn their 30-22 win against a despite Tweed Heads Seagulls outfit at Langlands Park, Suzuki Stadium after having a player sent off late in the first half.
The Tigers were already in the lead 10-6 when Dave Tyrell was sent off for unsportsmanlike behaviour in the 28th minute of the match; and the class and NRL experience of their key forwards and Brodie Croft in the halves helped them to hold the Seagulls at bay.
The visitors started the contest the better with Ryland Jacobs opening the scoring in just the fourth minute after he chased hard on a kick through.
However, Easts got themselves on the board soon after when Croft – who had an impressive game – pumped the ball at the line and ran through to the right of the uprights to score an easy try after the defenders fell for the dummy.
The Tigers made it back-to-back tries when Jarrod McInally dove over the line to the far left of the field.
The Seagulls had plenty of chances to claw their way back in front, but could not capitalise when they had use of the ball, making too many errors.
Instead; the Tigers were in for their third try of the first half when Patrick Kaufusi bounced his way out of a huge collision with a Tweed Heads defender Lamar Manuel-Liolevave to continue charging forward and planted the ball down over the line.
The Tigers spent the last 10 minutes of the half pressuring the Tweed Heads goal-line, but they were unable to break them again in the half; with Croft successfully stepping up to take a shot at penalty goal in the 38th minute, giving his side an 18-4 lead at the break.
Just like in the first, the Seagulls were the first team to score – this time through fullback Ali Grant with an impressive try to open the second half.
It took until mid-way through the half for the Tigers to respond – once again via Croft – who produced a hard run back on the inside after the Tigers were allowed to mount continued pressure on the Tweed Heads line.
In symmetry with the first half, the Tigers again went back-to-back within minutes; after a nice run from fullback Scott Drinkwater who then produced a looping long pass out to Linc Port down the right sideline for a 28-10 scoreline.
While the Seagulls then went over for the next two tries; both to Kiah Cooper, it was not enough to upset the Tigers who gave their finals hopes a boost with the win.
In good news for the Seagulls; veteran Sam Meskell was cleared of a serious neck injury after being stretchered from the field 10 minutes before fulltime.
Next week, the Tigers travel to the Sunshine Coast to play the Falcons, while Tweed Heads host the Hunters in another key game.
EASTS TIGERS 30 (Brodie Croft 2, Jarrod McInally, Patrick Kaufusi, Linc Port tries; Brodie Croft 5 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 22 (Kiah Cooper 2, Ryland Jacobs, Alex Grant tries; Kane Elgey 3 goals) at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park.