The brilliance of Tweed Seagulls fullback Reece Walsh was the catalyst for the Seagulls' 24-16 win over a spirited Souths Logan Magpies in the second Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup semi-final.
The metre-eating fullback was phenomenal in this game at Wynnum’s BMD Kougari Oval, scoring two tries and setting up another.
Playing in a howling wind, this game was being played up the middle by both forward packs seemingly trying to out-muscle each other in the opening exchanges.
With a bumper crowd on hand, the Magpies drew first blood in the 10th minute of play; lock Adonai Faagutu opened the scoring, steaming onto a Jett Trembath pass to crash in out wide.
A fantastic conversion in the gale force wind by halfback Konrad Tu’ua saw the Magpies skip out to an early 6-0 lead.
A dropped ball by the Magpies minutes later saw the Seagulls score a textbook try, seeing the ball sweep right across the backline to finally see Caleb Hodges brush off his opposite number and score in the corner.
The physicality of the game went into overdrive in the later stages of the first half which saw the intensity shift up a gear.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Magpies could have increased the scoreline with a dash down the sideline by winger Tyrone Sa’u, but he was bundled into touch, leaving the halftime score at 6-4 to the Magpies.
Seagulls came out with serious intent in the second half.
You could smell the new found vigour after the break and with only one minute of play under way, fullback Walsh’s incredible turn of pace had the Magpies clutching at thin air as he weaved his way to score out wide.
Walsh’s cunning burst from dummy half had the Seagulls increase the lead to 14-6, as the custodian palmed off two would-be defenders to make a mockery of the defence and go into score one of best tries of the afternoon.
With the howling wind still playing havoc with both sides, a towering Walsh bomb was dropped by the Magpies 10 metres out and Seagulls centre Xavier Coates was on hand to claim the loose ball and score an opportunist try.
The Magpies again would be at the mercy of Seagulls' Walsh, as he delivered a superb pass to second rower Brendan Piakura who made no mistake in crossing to further the lead to 24-6.
Late Magpies tries to winger Su’a and a brilliant chip and chase to halfback Tu’ua proved not enough, with the Seagulls sneaking home 24-16.
Match: Magpies v Seagulls
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: BMD Kougari Oval