While games featuring the Townsville Blackhawks, Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters were called off due to the extreme weather conditions in the area; there were still a number of trial matches this past weekend.
Signalling the exciting fact that footy season is just around the corner – the Tweed Heads Seagulls hosted Souths Logan Magpies in all three grades; while Norths Devils were at away to the Wynnum Manly Seagulls, also in three grades.
The Ipswich Jets Western Mustangs Under 18 Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup sides also played a trial game at Boonah Road, Purga with Ipswich winning both matches - 20-8 and and 32-28.
The Devils looked sharp as all four grades took on the Seagulls in the opening trial matches of the season at Wynnum Juniors’ home ground.
The Intrust Super Cup squad had a 40-24 win which followed on from the BRL team’s 36-0 result.
That will be tested again on Saturday when defending premiers Redcliffe Dolphins arrive at Bishop Park for another full slate of trials across all grades – Intrust Super Cup, Brisbane Rugby League, Hastings Deering Colts (Under 20) and Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup (Under 18).
Coach Rohan Smith was pleased with the Devils’ first hit out as the wins in the open-age matches followed on from an encouraging victory by the Mal Meninga Cup team.
The Colts had plenty of positive points despite losing their first outing since their premiership win.
“It was pleasing to see things moving in the right direction in our first trial,” Smith said.
“We saw a lot of genuine competition for positions. A lot of people put their hands up for selection and that’s encouraging as we continue towards the season.”
Down at Piggabeen Sports Complex, the Tweed Heads Seagulls Intrust Super Cup coach Ben Woolf said he felt his squad was much-progressed in preparation for the upcoming season compared to this time last year, despite going down to Souths Logan Magpies in the opening trial match on Saturday night.
The Seagulls were beaten 26-6 in the second trial that included most of the established players from both clubs after the Gulls were dominant in the earlier trial, winning 26-6.
Going into the 2018 season, the first under former Gold Coast Titans Under 20s mentor Woolf, Tweed Heads were trying to mould new combinations with several new players and a new coach.
This upcoming season, only three established members of last year’s squad won’t back up in 2019 – utility Eli Levido who has returned to Sydney, centre Brayden McGrady who has been signed by Penrith Panthers and utility forward Tristan Lumley who has moved to western NSW.
Skipper Cheyne Whitelaw may miss the first half of the season while recovering from a knee reconstruction, after ruining his ACL at the end of the Seagulls’ seven-match winning streak in 2018.
However, the Gulls have been strengthened by the inclusion of Norths Devils skipper John Palavi, and former Titans and Rabbitohs half / hooker Christian Hazard who was contracted to the Newcastle Knights last season, but returns to the Coast where he played Under 20s under Woolf in 2014.
An interesting strategy by Woolf is to trial second-rower Lamar Liolevave, who has proven a handful for defences on the left-edge in his two seasons at Piggabeen, as a centre. He showed glimpses of what he is capable of that during the trial match.
“Naturally I would have liked us to play better, but there were some good signs there and there’s no doubt we are well ahead of where we were last year,” Woolf said.