The Campbell Construction Co. Tweed Seagulls ended Redcliffe Dolphins’ five-game winning streak with a grinding 14-12 victory at Piggabeen Sports Complex on Sunday.
Match: Seagulls v Dolphins
Round 11 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
The in a performance that was not pretty, but reinforced their resilience that will be a major asset come finals time.
It was a dour, physical confrontation between two teams that defended well, conceding tries only in the face of possession flows to their opponents until the Seagulls nailed the victory, coming from behind to do so.
Redcliffe led 6-4 at half-time and had a strong southerly wind at their backs in the second half.
With six minutes remaining they led 12-8 but, while they made crucial errors searching for the match-sealing try, Tweed iced their one golden opportunity of the final 10 minutes – with the main reason coming in an unlikely shape.
It was burly prop Herman Ese’ese, returning from a three-game NRL suspension, who scored the match-winner in the 74th minute.
Four minutes earlier, a try went begging when a pass from fullback Lindon McGrady to right winger Treymain Spry went behind him when the Seagulls were struggling to gain any territorial momentum into the wind.
Then came a break for the Seagulls when Dolphins prop Ryan Turner, who had been a strong performer, coughed up the ball 35 metres from his own line.
On the last tackle of the resulting set, Seagulls halfback Toby Sexton squeezed a grubber into in-goal on the left edge and Ese’ese steamed through to be first for the ball.
That levelled the score at 12-12 with McGrady, who failed with his two earlier conversion attempts from the touchline, given the chance to break the deadlock.
He did without trouble.
It was the second Tweed try of the second half that came from a short-range grubber, the other resulted in a try to Spry (then on the left wing before Talor Walters was forced off the field with a head knock) from a kick by Will Brimson.
Redcliffe’s two tries were also short range efforts, the first by halfback and skipper Cameron Cullen in the 36th minute after several six-again calls against Tweed for ruck infringements. Giant prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown stood in a three-man tackled and stuck a pass to Cullen metres from the line, with the little No. 7 squeezing under the scramble to score
The try of the match - and the only one of the five from a slick attacking shape - had been scored by Walters in the 11th minute. An Esan Marsters’ pass gave Walters a little room on the outside, but the brilliant mover Walters still had plenty of work to do from 25 metres and beat two tacklers with an in-and-away and a burst of speed.
While the return of Titans props through the Cupin Ese’ese (suspension) and Sam Lisone (pectoral injury), and the return of Joe Vuna after two games in the big league strengthened the Seagulls up front, the victory was built on the efforts of their regular non-NRL players.
Second-rower Braden Robson, who returned after a HIA stint, was outstanding for the home side while JJ Collins, whose time was limited because of a head knock, and skipper Lamar Liolevave led the finals-like tough effort of the forwards who were up against a much-bigger pack.
Cullen was a constant threat when he ran the ball for the Dolphins, hooker Manaia Cherrington – who scored his side’s second try when he looked right and darted left near the line in the 59th minute – created several opportunities while big men Turner, Brown Pride Petterson-Robati made their presence felt in attack and defence.
Tweed opened up a three-point gap in third place ahead of four teams – Souths Logan, Burleigh, Redcliffe and Northern Pride going into next week’s representative weekend break – emphasising what an important victory it was.