A second half lift in intensity saw the Tweed Seagulls fight back from a 12-point half-time deficit to beat a physical Central Queensland Capras 28-18 at Tugun on Saturday.
The Capras, with no NRL-aligned players, rattled a Seagulls side that included seven Gold Coast Titans with their aggressive defence, spoiling tactics, hard straight running and controlled kicking game during the first 40 minutes.
Match: Seagulls v Capras
Round 1 -
Venue: Tugun RLFC, Tugun
Despite the Seagulls being first on the scoreboard through a barge-over try by newcomer JJ Collins in the fifth minute, the Capras dominated the rest of the first session, scoring three converted tries as the Seagulls were put out of stride by the Capras’ relentless aggression and intensity.
Tweed made a string of unforced errors to gift the Capras possession as they ran with a strong wind at their backs.
Tries came to lock Lachlan Hubner in the eighth minute when he crashed through the centre of the ruck from short range.
Another followed soon after, scored by halfback Jack Madden on the left edge after Tweed winger Talor Walters has spilled a bomb.
A third Capras’ try came in the 27th minute when a good offload from McKenzie Yei put second-rower Nixon Putt over for an 18-6 lead.
A rev up by Seagulls coach Ben Woolf at half-time, which challenged his players to match the Capras’ unbridled intensity, and to respect the ball more, took his side out of their complacency.
Walters scored after a good shift to the right less than four minutes after the break and slightly-built fullback Jayden Campbell, son of Titans legend Preston, put Treymain Spry into space for a 50th minute try which brought the score back to 16-18 with Lindon McGrady’s conversion.
Yet it was the 59th minute before the Seagulls again had the lead when 20-year-old Titans-contracted halfback Toby Sexton, who showed some good touches on debut and defended strongly, shook off Putt with a left-handed fend and ran 30 metres to score on the right.
McGrady’s conversion made it 22-18.
The victory wasn’t sealed under left centre Lee Turner scored the try of the game in the 76th minute.
The opportunity came after Spry switched from the right of the ruck to the left, probing for an opening. He landed a smart pass to McGrady who threw a cut-out ball to always-reliable Turner who squeezed into the left corner.
Woolf would not have been pleased with the succession of unforced errors, particularly in the first half, but was impressed with the lift in intent in the second – particularly the effort of Titans players who were at the forefront of the comeback with aggressive defence, led by prop Jai Whitbread, and the strong carries of Darius Farmer.
“I told them at half-time that the Capras’ intent was just way better, and it doesn’t matter how fast and how good you are, if the other team has an intent to run hard and tackle hard and an intent to scramble they will get the better of you,” Woolf said.
“We matched their intent, or even bettered it, in the second half and the game swung around.
“We have another attacking strike in the side if we roll up our sleeves and give those players the opportunity.
"Darius Farmer had some good carries when we needed it and the Titans boys showed they wanted to play and do the job for our regular boys.”
Prop Collins showed he will be a handy acquisition, Campbell gave glimpses how elusive he can be in the second half with acceleration and ability to change direction quickly - reminiscent of his father.
Spry was often dangerous when in the attacking zone, bench hooker Liam Hampson made a strong impact and Titans’ prospect Sexton grew into the match and will obviously develop further as he gets more familiar with his teammates.
The Capras, Ipswich and PNG Hunters may be the only Intrust Super Cup teams without direct alignments to NRL clubs, but the Rockhampton boys showed that reputations won’t bother them and they have enough class, size and aggression to match most sides if they can maintain their effort for 80 minutes.
Round 2 will see the Capras take on Northern Pride.
Match: Capras v Pride
Round 2 -
Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton
The Seagulls will face Wynnum Manly Seagulls in a 'flockbuster' at Iona College.
Match: WM Seagulls v Seagulls
Round 2 -
Venue: Iona College, Brisbane