The Tweed Seagulls broke their seven-match long hoodoo against Townsville Blackhawks by toughing out a 24-16 victory in the slush and rain at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
With both sides scoring three tries, it was left to four second-half penalty goals by five-eighth Lindon McGrady (who kicked six from seven) to separate the two teams.
The Seagulls turned around a 7-1 first-half penalty count against them and it was the Blackhawks who fell away in discipline under the physical pressure of the Seagulls in the final 20 minutes.
McGrady was influential with his kicking game in the wet conditions and it was his beautiful pass in the second session that put 19-year-old Treymain Spry in for his second try that had a huge impact on the result.
Left-edge second-rower Kalani Going was a deserved Hastings Deerings player of the match winner, after scoring the first try and causing headaches for the Blackhawks’ right defence with his determined running.
However, there were several excellent performances in Ben Woolf’s line-up, including Titans hooker Mitch Rein who played the full 80 minutes, prop Leilani Latu, winger Ryland Jacobs, lock Kirk Murphy and interchange forward Bayley Faull.
Murphy couldn’t believe his luck when he crossed after great offload by Latu in just the fourth minute, but the ball bounced as he tried to slam it down with his right hand and he was denied a try.
Less than a minute later, it looked like the Blackhawks would score first, on back of a midfield penalty, but Latu pulled off a great effort to push Blackhawks winger Michael Carroll into touch with Ryland Jacobs underneath.
Six and a half minutes in, Going crossed in the set after Blackhawks fullback Zac Santo fumbled a McGrady grubber kick that hit the goalpost pad.
Going ran onto a small gap off halfback Ryley Jacks from a set-play shift to the left and McGrady converted for a 6-0 lead.
Just six minutes later, Santo dropped a Talor Walters kick along the ground under pressure of a charging Keegan Hipgrave.
Fellow Titans-contracted player Spry picked the ball up on the run and scored under the posts. McGrady’s easy conversion made it 12-0.
In the 19th minute, in their third successive set of possession in the Seagulls quarter, Blackhawks centre Shaun Hudson was first to the ball after a neat chip-kick into the left corner of the in-goal from halfback Parker-Walsh.
Seven minutes later, the NQ side almost scored from the same play; Parker-Walshe chipped to left corner again and winger Kalifa Faifai-Loa leapt for it and Hudson picked up the rebound. It was sent to the video ref as a try, but replays showed Faifai-Loa got a hand to the ball and knocked it forward.
In the 36th minute, a stripped ball gave the Blackhawks the momentum and centre Levi Dodd showed good footwork to beat two tackles and score, to make the score 12-10 which remained until the break.
Coach Woolf implored his team to pick up their discipline in the second half, which they did.
Three minutes into the second half a brilliant cut-out ball by McGrady put Spry into a hole 10m from the Blackhawks’ line and he crossed for his second try. McGrady failed to convert this one, leaving the score 16-10.
However, he landed important penalty goals in the 60th (late tackle on Mitch Rein) and 64th minutes (high tackle on Rein) to give the Seagulls a handy 10-point cushion as rain started to fall.
Match: Seagulls v Blackhawks
Round 2 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
Townsville were quickly back in the game after a neat cross-goal grubber kick by Shaun Nona into the in-goal was scooped up by Parker-Walshe. Nona’s conversion made it 16-10 and soon after, they were centimetres from going ahead when hooker Krys Freeman just failed to force the ball in a Walters’ tackle after he scooted over the line from dummy-half.
In the next minute, the Seagulls had another let-off when Faifai Loa was put into the clear in a set move in the middle of the ruck – but the referee ruled an obstruction on defender Jack Cook.
A third penalty goal by McGrady with four and a half minutes remaining took the Seagulls’ lead out to 22-16.
However, the Blackhawks regained possession from a shallow kick-off and were on the charge again when Spry intercepted a dummy-half pass from Freeman and looked set to settle the match, but was brilliantly run down by Fai-Fai Loa.
The scoring ended with another McGrady penalty goal (with Spry having been held down) to give the Gulls an impressive maiden win against the Blackhawks and leave the side unbeaten after two rounds, heading into the local derby against Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park next Sunday.
Match: Bears v Seagulls
Round 3 -
Venue: Pizzey Park, Gold Coast
The Blackhawks will take part in a northern derby against the Pride for XXXX Rivalry Round.
Match: Pride v Blackhawks
Round 3 -
Venue: Barlow Park, Cairns