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Second half blitz lifts Gulls to BRL grand final

The Bayside Seagulls will take on the Redcliffe Dolphins in the In Safe Hands Cup grand final this weekend after an impressive 38-8 preliminary final victory over the West Brisbane Panthers.

The Seagulls scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to book their place in the grand final for the second time since the competition's rebirth in 2015.

The preliminary final was a hard-hitting affair between two massive forward packs on a slow track, due to the rain that had fallen overnight and throughout the day at WJ Scott Park.

It would take 28 minutes of end-to-end rugby league before any points were scored as the big men went toe-to-toe up the middle.

With both teams muscling up on their goal-line, Seagulls hooker Kalolo Saitaua went for the grubber into the northern end. A deflection off the goal post put the ball into open space and replacement Corey Davis pounced on the loose ball to score the opening try.

Seagulls veteran John Te Reo used his meteorological skills to send the ball into the stiff breeze, giving it extended air time allowing for halfback Mitch Moore to have enough time to challenge mid-air.

Moore tapped it backwards for Kelly Tate who put the ball down and extended the lead to 12-0 after 32 minutes.

Panthers five-eighth Mikaere Beattie would also employ the kicking option to try and find West Brisbane's first points. A grubber on the last tackle sat up nicely for the try scoring machine Troy Swift to regather and touch down for the converted try. 

A Beattie penalty kick on halftime cut the Seagulls lead to just 12-8 at the break. The game was in the balance at the breaks, but the Seagulls would pull away with an outstanding second stanza.

Te Reo and Moore would feature in the Seagulls first points of the second half as they combined to go to the left side to put Tumoana Halkyard in to score.

Rain continued to drizzle as Junior Pita literally slipped through the Panthers defence to crash over and suddenly, the Gulls held a commanding 24-8 lead with more than 20 minutes to go.

The Panthers held on desperately as they tried to keep their season alive, but handling errors and some key penalties late in the tackle count wore them down as the clock ticked away.

Moore sent the ball skyward, with right winger Peter Gubb leaping above the pack and quickly offloading to Kelly Tate who crossed for his second.

A Te Reo penalty kick followed by a late try to Jack Goodsell concluded an outstanding second half performance and booked the Seagulls a date with the Dolphins next Saturday.

The grand final between the Dolphins and Seagulls will take place at Bishop Park on Saturday, September 15 from 4pm.

Seagulls 38 (Mitchell Moore, Tumoana Halkyard, Jack Goodsell, Junior Pita, Kelly Tate 2 tries; John Te Reo 7 goals) defeated Panthers 8 (Troy Swift try; Mikaere Beattie 2 goals)

* John Devine is a QRL correspondent covering the BRL A Grade competition

(Photo courtesy of Wynnum-Manly Seagulls Facebook Page)