Slightly-built fullback Jayden Campbell scored three brilliant tries, reminiscent of his famous father Preston, during Tweed Seagulls’ 18-18 draw with a resolute Northern Pride at Piggabeen Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
As Seagulls fans have come to expect this season - Tweed again had to come from behind - again they drove into tackles in the middle in an absorbing battling between the forwards and, again, the 21-year-old Campbell had some magic touches in taking his try tally to five in five games as his dad watched on.
Match: Seagulls v Pride
Round 7 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
Two came from kick-and-regather efforts, the first his own boot and the second from classy halfback Toby Sexton. The other came when he exploded off a neat Jai Whitbread pass from 40-metres out for a try that levelled the scores at 18-apiece in the 60th minute.
Both teams had could not get across the line after that and had failed field goal attempts, with Pride five-eighth Tom Steadman hitting the left upright from in front in the 72nd minute and Sexton just missing from just to the right of the post in the 75th.
Tweed – who had two tries in the first half called back by the referee for obstruction – and Whitbread sin-binned in the sixth minute for a high tackle - did well to strike back from 18-6 behind after the Pride scored two soft tries in successive sets early in the second half.
Seagulls coach Ben Woolf felt his side became too conservative and one-dimensional in the final 10 minutes as they ran one-out, looking for field goal position when he would have liked them to continue their positive passing which has been a feature of their success this season.
“We paid for a couple of defensive lapses early in the second half, but I thought we did well to come back and level the scores,” Woolf said.
“But, after starting to break them down by playing some footy, we did away from that and were looking at hit up after hit up to set up for a field goal or the one winning play instead of probing them and probing them.
“We went from rolling well down middle them playing some good shape to going one out.”
On Campbell’s performance, Woolf said his footwork and speed had troubled every defence this season, whether returning the ball or jumping onto some good lead-up work, but the 80kg stringbean may need to build his weight and strength to handle the rigours of week-to-week play NRL.
Tweed had three clear scoring opportunities go begging in the first half to spoil what could have been a decisive start to the game.
Talor Walters looked set to cross in the right corner in the seventh minute, but went touch-in-goal as he dived over the line with the defence converging. Three minutes, later Lindon McGrady seemed to have scored on the left edge, but was called back for obstruction by a lead-runner.
The Pride were able to ice their first real chance after gaining possession when Campbell lost the ball in a tackle after taking a bomb.
Three tackles later, with Tweed down to 12-men with Whitbread’s binning, Pride halfback Matthew Egan brilliantly ran into space from close range for a try to the left of the posts which gave the Pride a 6-0 lead with Steadman’s conversion in the 18th minute.
Campbell’s first try came in the 30th minute. He snapped up a pass from Sexton near his ankle on the right side, ducked under a tackle, crabbed to his left then grubber kicked through the line from 10 metres and regathered under the posts.
That finished the first-half scoring with Tweed denied another try after left centre Lee Turner crossed from a neat held-up pass from McGrady in what seemed a well-executed shape, only for another obstruction call.
The Pride started the second half better than their opponents and were rewarded when they took advantage of an error in yardage by the Seagulls (a pass from Liam Hampson went to ground).
Two tackles after the resulting scrum, Grant Anderson stepped through the defence to score and, from the set after the kick-off, the ball went to the left and winger Shawn Bowen grabbed an overlap, broke away and found fullback Jayden Corrigan in support. His converted try made it 18-6 after 47 minutes.
To their credit, the Seagulls upped the tempo and Campbell soon after was in for his second try.
Halfback Sexton put a crafty last-tackle grubber kick through from 30 metres and Campbell shot through the line to be first to the ball and shook off a defender before scoring for 18-12 with McGrady’s goal.
At the 59th-minute mark Whitbread, who had a strong game, drew in the defence and created space for Campbell with a good pass at the line. Once Campbell gets into space on the fly, there is little chance of stopping him and he stepped Corrigan to go in beside the posts to level the scores.
One of the Pride’s strongest performers, skipper and hooker Chris Ostwald, looked like he might snatch victory in the 65th minute when he burrowed over the line, but he was brilliantly held up by Lamar Liolevave and Hampson, who went off for a HIA spell for his troubles.
From then, neither side was able to create a winning play and the Pride secured their second draw of the season (both 18-18) after sharing the points in Round 2 with Central Queensland Capras, while the Seagulls took their unbeaten run to five games.
Both packs of forwards deserve credit for tearing into each other relentlessly on the heavy surface while Titans-contracted 20-year-old Sexton controlled play well for Tweed as he continues his apprenticeship towards an NRL debut.
Match: Seagulls v Tigers
Round 8 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
Next weekend, the Seagulls will host Brisbane Tigers.
Match: Cutters v Pride
Round 8 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
Northern Pride will head to Mackay to face the Cutters.