The Campbell Construction Co. Tweed Seagulls returned home to the Piggabeen Sports Complex to play out a 26-26 thriller against the Burleigh Bears in Round 17.
Match: Seagulls v Bears
Round 17 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
An early penalty for offside put the Seagulls on the backfoot early and the Bears turned the field position into points through Pat Politoni.
Following a strong Esan Marsters carry off a Guy Hamilton short ball, Politoni burrowed over from dummy half to open the scoring inside two minutes.
Tweed responded and played themselves into the match on the back of Lindon McGrady’s kicking game.
He first pinned the Bears in the far corner of the ground before forcing a dropout shortly after. However, the Seagulls attack - despite poking their head through the line once or twice - couldn’t get over the line. The Bears, on the other hand, only needed a scrum in good ball to add to their lead.
A Scott Galeano error provided the Bears with a mid-field scrum only 10 metres from the Seagulls line. Kea Pere charged onto another Hamilton short ball and carried two defenders over to push the Burleigh lead out to 10-0 after 15 minutes.
Again McGrady’s kicking game played Tweed back into it. Needing to apply more pressure in an attempt to shut it down, Burleigh applied a little bit too much on McGrady as he put boot to ball, conceding a penalty and gifting the Seagulls another opportunity to attack in good ball. Braden Robson made it count this time as he collected a late Charlie Murray offload before forcing his way under the posts to make it 10-6 in the 20th minute.
Sam Lisone soon gave Tweed the lead with a ridiculous show of skill from the prop forward.
It looked as though Burleigh’s line would hold firm after solving a dangerous Tweed shift to the right edge. However, on the fifth tackle and on the second phase, Lisone put a grubber in behind the line and won the race to the ball to put the home side 12-10 in front.
The Bears weren’t without opportunities to retake the lead before halftime. Repeated Seagulls six again infringements and handling errors allowed them to apply pressure in good ball, but poor offloads released it on two occasions and a grubber going dead in goal allowed the home side to get up the field and through to the break with the lead.
Tweed laid the platform for a strong start to the second half through McGrady’s kicking game and firm defence early. However, a strip penalty allowed the Bears to start the second half in the same way they did the first with Alofiana Khan-Pereira crossing early for the visitors to retake the lead.
Tweed made Hamilton a target in the defensive line throughout the early stages of the second half. McGrady and Craig Garvey both looked to isolate Ioane Seiuli onto the halfback. Having hit Seiuli in the previous sets, McGrady skipped him and played to Will Brimson out the back who put Josh Patston through a gaping hole in the 52nd minute.
A superb cover tackle saved the Bears on this occasion, but the Seagulls went straight back to that edge at the next opportunity. Patston ran the lead to occupy Hamilton this time while the ball made its way out the back to Seiuli. An outrageous Seiuli offload, similar to the one he threw in Round 4, ended with Kaleb Ngamanu over in the corner.
Six again infringements made things difficult for Tweed but their defence responded before they again worked through the left edge. However, the Burleigh right side became the target in yardage before a typical Tweed longside shift to the right. Lisone swung the ball through the middle as the Tweed right edge linked up to send Scott Galeano across the line in the 63rd minute.
A McGrady forced dropout to end the set after points translated into McGrady crossing the line himself moments later. Collecting the short dropout and skipping through the Burleigh defence, the skipper extended Tweed’s lead.
Not to be put off but short kicks, Burleigh looked short on the kickoff as they attempted to answer back. Regaining possession and charging up the field, Jacob Alick burrowed over to stop the rot and close the gap to six heading into the final eight minutes.
The gap closed entirely only two minutes later. A rampaging Api Noema-Matenga broke through the line in the set after points to scramble the Tweed defensive line.
Josh Rogers went close, but as the defensive line tracked back and prepared for a shift on the last tackle, Hamilton cut back inside to beat the sliding defence and level the scores at 26-26 with five minutes to play.
As the clock wound down and a Jarrod Wallace error provided the Seagulls with the last good chance at snatching victory, a near-perfect field goal set ended with McGrady’s attempt hitting the post.
The final 26-26 score line captures the thrilling nature of this close contest which keeps the Seagulls at 7th on the ladder ahead of their huge Round 18 match against the 8th-placed Northern Pride.
Tweed coach Ben Woolf was pleased with the response after going down early, but the two competition points slipped away in the end.
“It was disappointing to lose,” Woolf said.
“I thought we did enough and to lead by 12 with 10 to play. The win was in our grasp.”
He was impressed with Sam Lisone’s solo effort to score and the new-look left edge combination, though.
“Sam was stoked with that effort. It was good to see him get some rewards as he buys in to Tweed every week he’s back here,” Woolf said.
“I thought our left edge looked good all game. They put Burleigh under pressure every time we went there and did a good job in defence.”
Next weekend, the Seagulls face Northern Pride.
Match: Pride v Seagulls
Round 18 -
Venue: Barlow Park, Cairns
The Bears will play Mackay Cutters.
Match: Cutters v Bears
Round 18 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay