The Redcliffe Dolphins retained the Herald Cup for the fourth consecutive year over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls, continuing their second half of the season resurgence with a 32-20 victory at Dolphin Stadium.
The first 20 minutes was full of enterprising play by both bayside teams, with the Seagulls kickers struggling to find the favour of the ball.
Match: Dolphins v WM Seagulls
Round 17 -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
The deadlock was not broken until the 13th minute when Redcliffe opened the scoring with a Tyson Gamble penalty goal.
Wynnum landed the first damaging blow six minutes later when the Seagulls utilised the first of many strong Kalolo Saitaua runs to allow Matiu Love-Henry to show-off some footwork, creating space for Jordan Drew to score the first try.
The joy would be short lived though, with the Dolphins answering back quickly when rugby convert and XXXX Queensland Residents representative Izaia Perese responded with some footwork of his own to add what would become a converted try to give the home side a two-point buffer once again.
The remaining 10 minutes leading into halftime saw both teams exchange a few completed sets before a penalty gave the Dolphins an opportunity to extend their small lead, coming in the form of a bustling Jamil Hopoate run that saw him best three Wynnum defenders for a try to the right of the uprights.
The easy conversion had the Phins safely thinking they’d enter the break with an eight-point lead, before a repeat set for the Seagulls gave playmaker Sam Scarlett the platform to serve up a try to Matt Milson with the most gorgeous of Banana kicks.
The simple conversion just before the buzzer again had these two teams separated by a mere two points.
A few adjustments had the Seagulls re-assert their aggressive attack with a few running attempts on the fifth tackle, but Redcliffe fullback Trai Fuller would turn the tide when he ripped off a long run that would eventually see winger Jeremy Hawkins stretch out for the first of a very quick pair of tries for his Dolphins.
Redcliffe gained a firm grip on the momentum following the successive tries before Wynnum captain Mitch Cronin caught some offside markers, generating a much-needed penalty.
Despite the field position, the Redcliffe defence continued their dominance, with usual dummy half scoring ace Saitaua being denied millimeters short of the line on the last tackle of the subsequent set.
Fuller’s game-breaking ability was on the forefront again moments later, making a line break off his own line with 14 minutes remaining.
The resulting broken play almost saw Wynnum a man down for a professional foul, but ultimately it culminated into another converted penalty kick for the Dolphins to stretch them out to a comfortable 14-point lead with 12 minutes left.
The Dolphins found themselves unable to stop a second Saitaua dart five minutes later; with the lock forward adding his sixth try of the season with just over seven left on the clock; providing a hint of hope for the visitors.
Their fate would all but be sealed in the 74th minute however; when Scarlett was sent from the field for a high tackle on yet another Fuller line break.
Whilst impressive efforts, the late trading of tries between the clubs would be academic; the Dolphins winning by a margin of 12 points – enough to see the Herald Cup return to Redcliffe once again despite their loss to the Gulls in Round 3.
The Dolphins were also mourning the passing over club great Peter Leis overnight, with the sides marking a moment of silence before the match.