Tweed Seagulls fell to a persistent Mackay Cutters side 24-22 at Piggabeen Sports Complex in Round 12 of Hostplus Cup.
The Seagulls put themselves under early pressure in this one as a penalty in the first set of the game provided the Cutters with free passage up the field.
Holding firm defensively, the Seagulls kicked the ball out of the full to end their return set before an error ended their next on the second tackle. The Cutters continued to pile on the pressure through a forced dropout before Laitia Moceidreke scored in the corner to turn close to 10 minutes of pressure into points for the visitors.
Tweed earned a much-needed relieving penalty in the 13th minute which qualified as their first completed set of the match. Their second ended in points with the 19-year-old debutant, Brent Barnes, finishing off a typical Seagulls long-side shift to the left edge.
Barnes soon became a distributor with his offload translating into a Blake Scott line break and 60-metre run. With the defensive line disjointed and Seagulls flying up the field, Ryland Jacobs went over down the right side.
Despite handing over possession and providing the Cutters numerous opportunities to attack the line, the Seagulls managed to build a 10-4 lead after 23 minutes.
Both sides started to work themselves into the game and managed to end consecutive sets with kicks for the first time in the match after 30 minutes.
The longer the game worked towards a grind, the better the Seagulls started to look. They won the middle to get up the field on the occasions they maintained possession and those sets eventually turned into points. A Lindon McGrady kick ended up in the corner before a strong defensive effort forced the Cutters back over their line for a repeat set. With it, Charlie Murray barged his way over the line to push the Seagulls’ lead out to 16-4.
The Cutters managed to knock over a penalty goal before half-time but the first 40 minutes belonged to Tweed after they made the most of limited opportunities to hold a double-digit lead at the break.
Match: Seagulls v Cutters
Round 12 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
It was a different story in the second half, though.
The errors continued for the Seagulls and it didn’t take the Cutters long to capitalise. While it required a friendly bounce away from a scrambling Jacobs at the back, Ewan Coutts won the race to the ball to close the gap to 16-12.
Another penalty after points once again sent the Cutters up the field and into attacking territory. Keeping it relatively tight throughout the set as they looked for a way through the Seagulls line, Kyle Schneider crashed his way over for the Cutters to retake the lead with 30 minutes to play.
The Seagulls looked likely every time they managed to hold onto the ball for extended periods. Searching down the edges in yardage, a long-side shift to the left side sent them up the field and into attacking field position. A Josh Patston carry set up the short side raid before a deflected Will Brimson grubber ended up back in the hands of the Tweed five-eighth and the stroke of luck put the home side back in front.
With the lead and the clock winding down, the Seagulls took better care of the football and started to spend time attacking in good ball. JJ Collins completed a typically strong shift in the middle while Klese Haas also provided quality in his debut off the bench.
Reuben Porter went close to extending the lead but the Cutters scrambled well to keep him out. Having absorbed the pressure and forced another penalty up the field themselves, the Cutters turned the screws and levelled the scores with six minutes to play. Moceidreke collected a cross-field kick for his second of the afternoon before Brandon Finnegan knocked over the conversion to put them 24-22 in front.
As the home side looked for the big shot in defence or the one-on-one strip in the search of one last attacking opportunity, Cutters executed well to finish. An early kick from dummy half put the Seagulls deep in their own end and a repeat set kept them there until the final whistle blew on a 24-22 Cutters win.
Brent Barnes made his debut after being elevated from the Hastings Deering Colts for this one. He did exceptionally well to bounce back from an early error to carry the ball well out of yardage. Strong in contact, he didn’t look out of place in the top side. His offload following a tackle-breaking carry set up Tweed’s second try of the afternoon.
Klese Haas, brother of Broncos prop Payne Haas, also made his first appearance this week. He put his hand up for the hard work through the middle and worked well alongside Collins towards the end of the match. Another 19-year-old making the step up from the Colts side and performing well, there is plenty of talent coming through the grades with Kaleb Ngamanu another who has deputised for the club this season.
It was a tough introduction to first grade for the two youngsters but Brent Barnes and Klese Haas both impressed Seagulls coach Ben Woolf on debut.
“I thought they [Barnes and Haas] both did well in a tough game. They didn’t have a lot of possession so didn’t get to show a lot in attack,” Woolf said.
The game was made tougher for Tweed through regular errors and penalties while working out of their own end.
“Our discipline definitely let us down. Penalties and errors at key times gave them opportunities to score points,” said Woolf.