The XXXX Rivalry Round hoodoo has been broken.
After losing the eight previous clashes with neighbours and fellow Gold Coast Titans feeder team Burleigh Bears, the Tweed Seagulls ended the drought with a pulsating 16-12 victory at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
Ahead 4-0 at half-time after a physical first half of relentless vigour, but 12-4 behind after 11 minutes of the second half, the Seagulls scored two tries in the last 23 minutes to secure a victory that puts them, temporarily at least, in the top four.
It was Tweed’s first victory against Burleigh since 2015 and takes their tally to nine victories from their past 12 games since the second half of 2019, confirming they are a genuine finals candidates.
And at the heart of it was a tireless performance by Titans forward Sam McIntyre who was a stand-out for the Seagulls in effort and effectiveness in his 61 minutes on the field, the first 50 in the one stint from the kick-off.
“It’s the first time that I felt we won the physical battle this season,” Seagulls coach Ben Woolf said.
“That was a win full of character. We had to do a lot of D in the first half and it was a great effort to come in at half-time in front.
“Every player did his job, including our smaller guys like Toby Sexton, Lindon McGrady and Jayden Campbell who were obviously targeted defensively.
“But Sam McIntyre was enormous for us; he really stood up and had plenty of commitment around him.
“We made some errors, sure, but we defended the errors really well and our speed and physicality of our defensive line was outstanding. That was a really tough derby game; a real grind – Burleigh took it to us.”
The first half produced only one scoring play with former NRL and Super League winger Fetuli Talanoa crossing in the left corner 90 seconds before half-time.
Match: Seagulls v Bears
Round 4 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
Burleigh had most of the ball and opportunities in the first half and, when Tweed halfback Toby Sexton was sin-binned in the 27th minute for a leg pull, his teammates had to dig in defensively.
A clever shift to the left saw Talanoa cross and taking a lead into half-time lifted the spirits of the Seagulls after what was as physical a half of football the fierce rivals had produced in years.
However, the Bears crossed twice within the first 10 minutes of the second half to take advantage of a momentum swing. The first try was scored by winger Cory Denniss down the short side on the right and soon after fullback Kurtis Rowe was over on the left after a neat backline movement.
However, the steely Seagulls refused to surrender and regained composure, took control of the middle of the field and waited for opportunity to come.
And that happened on the back of two errors by the Bears near their line.
The first came when Bears halfback Guy Hamilton, who was a threat all match with the ball, was being pushed back into the in-goal by Sexton and Brent Woolf and released the ball only for Sexton to react quickly and gain possession over the line.
The next Seagulls try also came from a kick and involved some luck. A grubber from Sexton took a deflection from a Bears player and Joe Vuna picked up the redirected ball and scored under the posts.
Lindon McGrady converted both tries for a 16-12 lead with nine minutes remaining.
The remaining time was frantic, with both sides making errors under pressure, but the Seagulls defence stuck solid to give Tweed a victory that showed they have the physical capability to grind away for tough victories and trouble any team in the competition.
Sami Sauiluma made an impressive return for the Bears in his first appearance for the season and Jacob Hind revelled in the tough exchanges but Burleigh have not developed any great attacking flow this season, something coach Rick Stone continues to work on as he tries to mingle Titans representatives like Tanah Boyd, who switched between five-eighth and hooker, into his line-up.
Tweed face Redcliffe Dolphins in Round 5.
Match: Dolphins v Seagulls
Round 5 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
Bears will play PNG Hunters.
Match: Bears v Hunters
Round 5 -
Venue: Pizzey Park, Gold Coast