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Norths hold on in grind against Seagulls

Tweed Seagulls put in another impressive defensive performance in Round 3, but fell just short of the Norths Devils 13-4 at Bycroft Oval, Gold Coast. 

A turnover of players in the spine and in the backline didn’t help the Seagulls attack as they were kept to just a single 10th-minute try.

However, they will take plenty out of their efforts on the defensive side of the ball to keep a dangerous Devils attack to just 13 points.

The Devils spine boasts stacks of experience and they combined to pick out debutant Kaleb Ngamanu early.

But the 18-year-old responded well to an early error by forcing his opposite into touch on the following set and looking comfortable throughout the rest of the match. 

That ability to bounce back from an error and the defensive resolve became a theme of the match after the two teams traded early tries.

Tyson Gamble cleaned up a Lindon McGrady grubber before racing 70 metres up the field, giving the Devils a full set to attack the Seagulls line.

Tyrone Roberts settled things down before Jack Ahearn and Gamble put a shift together which ended with Brendan Frei crashing over the line to open the scoring.

The Seagulls answered right back, though.

As has been the case so often already this season, Brent Woolf provided the key play when his one-on-one strip in the defensive set after points put Tweed hot on the attack.

Paul Turner looked to break through with his footwork down the left edge but it was a McGrady cross-field kick back the other way that produced points.

Sosefo Fifita leapt above two Devils defenders to pluck the ball out of the air and fall over the line to score his second try of the 2022 season. 

The game entered a grind following the quick exchange of points. Both sides worked through the middle and kicked well, forcing the other to work 80+ metres up the field to score. It wasn’t until a Tweed error that the game opened up and Norths took their chance.

Roberts again mounted pressure by forcing a repeat set before turning the extra possession into points. The tried and tested approach of looking left through Roberts and Ahearn paid dividends as Rashaun Denny fell over the line in the corner giving the Devils a 10-4 lead. Roberts added one more to it with a field goal as the siren sounded for halftime.

The second half moved much the same as the first as the two teams were forced to spend a lot of time defending their own line. 

Ahearn spent a lot of time ball-playing through the middle of the field for the Devils, changing the tempo of his runs across the field in search of a break.

For the Seagulls, Woolf looked for opportunities closer to the ruck and went close to sending Joshua Patston over with a crash ball.

What was an 80-minute battle between Turner and Gamble continued to develop as the match progressed. Gamble pulled up Turner just short of the line before Turner held Gamble up at the other end shortly after. With Gamble being cleaned up in the blood bin, Turner again targeted that side of the field, this time being held up himself.

Neither side took their chances in good ball throughout the second half and it wasn’t until Tweed’s Daniel Ross was given his marching orders for deliberately slowing down the ruck that the scoreboard ticked over.

Tweed continued to repel attacking raids on their line with the Devils eventually settling for a kick at goal to push their lead out to 13-4 which stuck through to the final whistle.

Lindon McGrady kicks ahead for the Seagulls. Photo: Zain Mohammed / QRL
Lindon McGrady kicks ahead for the Seagulls. Photo: Zain Mohammed / QRL

Key takeaways for Tweed Seagulls from Round 3

Braden Robson and JJ Collins again dominated through the middle of the field this week. Robson, in particular, ran the ball especially strong before searching for a late offload throughout the first half. With only two offloads in the previous two games this season, Robson threw three in the first half alone as the Seagulls generated a second phase to get up the field. It didn’t come off, but Robson’s tip onto a flying Collins close to the line is an action that will translate into points sooner rather than later.

Ending up at dummy half for periods after halftime, Robson displayed his versatility and importance to this Tweed side in another superb performance.

Similarly, Reuben Porter excelled on both sides of the ball. He made sure to get involved as Tweed worked out of their own end and made it painfully difficult for Norths to do the same with some powerful shots in defence. With a mountain of a man in Viko Puliuvea standing opposite him at 197 cm and 105kg, Porter repeatedly stopped the Devils backrower in his tracks.

The key takeaway for the Seagulls again is their defence after coach Ben Woolf highlighted it as an are of particular importance during the week.

“They are a good attacking team so our focus has been around controlling possession and keeping our line connected in defence,” Woolf said.

New players in new combinations on the edges comfortably handled a Devils attack laden with experienced ball-players that were forced to reach into their bag of tricks, shifting wide and switching the play, in an effort to break down a Seagulls defensive line that rarely budged.

Coach’s comments

The Seagulls have been strong in defence all season and coach Woolf was again impressed with the performance on that side of the ball overall.

“I was pretty happy with our effort in defence, particularly in the second half. The tries we leaked were a bit disappointing, but overall effort was good,” Woolf said. 

Robson’s offload was noticeable throughout the first half as he let go of three before halftime. The second phase played a huge part in how the Seagulls worked their way up the field and it’s something we can expect to see most weeks. 

“Robbo has a great ability to offload. There wasn’t any direction to offload more but the message to him is always if it’s on to throw,” Woolf said.

Ngamanu impressed in his debut alongside fullback Jaline Graham.

“I thought they both did well in a tough game. Both had some good touches and competed well through the game.”

Next weekend, the Seagulls will play Burleigh Bears for XXXX Rivalry Round.

The Norths Devils will play Souths Logan Magpies.

* Article by on behalf of Tweed Seagulls Media

In Sunday's other Round 3 matches, the Mackay Cutters continued their winning streak, pipping Northern Pride 24-22 at home at BMD Kougari Oval.


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