Neil Cadigan and QRL media
The Romano Group Tweed Heads Seagulls made sure coach Aaron Zimmerle celebrated his 100th game with a fitting celebration with a come-from-behind 34-28 win against Norths Devils at Bishop Park yesterday.
Yet he was quick to point out the influence of assistant coach Matt King, a Seagulls stalwart as a former player, for the victory that had been building for his side.
Photo: Ben Nakabuwai on the charge against the Devils. Pic: SMP Images.
Former dynamic NRL halfback Chris Sandow had been causing trouble for the Devils on the left edge in the first half while on the Seagulls’ left Lamar Liolevave had been contained by the swarming inside defenders.
King suggested second-rowers Liolevave and Saville change sides and the effect was instant, with Liolevave able get his right arm fee to cause problems with his strong running and offload, while Saville was outstanding and relentless on the other side of the ruck.
“I have to pay tribute to Kingy, as it had a big impact in the second half,” said Zimmerle.
“Both guys were terrific, and we showed that when we tough it out and stay in touch, we have points in us to come home strong.
“It was a good effort to come back from 22-10 down. Lindon McGrady’s kicking game was instrumental. Javern White was outstanding for them at fullback but Lindon was able to put pressure on him and earn three turnovers from kicks in the second half which was decisive.
“Michael Burgess’s determination and courage was instrumental too. He was the heart and soul of the victory.
“He got a pretty bad knock across the bridge of the nose from a tackle that is on report and had to be checked at half-time. Luckily he was OK and he had the attitude that no way was that going to stop him leading us to victory.
“All week he had been saying a promising effort, like against Burleigh the week before, was good enough. He wanted competition points and wanted to keep driving the team.”
‘Zimmo’ also paid tribute to how experienced campaigners Saville, Damian Sironen, Sam Meskell and James Wood rose to the occasion when the game was on the line with Wood’s two bullocking hit-ups coming out of yardage late in the game lifting his teammates.
Things started well for the Gulls who posted the opening points when Lindon McGrady chased a kick through and got his hands to the ball over the line.
However, Norths hit back almost straight away through the left edge with Matiu Love-Henry reaching out to level the scores at 4-4.
Norths scored the next two tries; the first a scrambling effort completed by Javarn White; while speed was the key for the second after a burst down the left-hand side was finished by Michael Lucas diving over near the corner post.
A penalty to the Seagulls helped them down the field and they make it count, with Sironen crashing over in the 25th minute. The conversion from Burgess narrowed the lead to a converted try in favour of Norths.
While there was some solid defence midfield from both sides, in the first half it almost seemed like either team just had to make it to the opposition zone to score.
Norths were over again only four minutes later with White darting through for his second, and Todd Murphy’s conversion pushed the home side’s lead out to 22-10.
Some big defence earnt the Seagulls a scrum with two minutes until half-time, and importantly, they took the invitation with Tevita Folau following through on a kick from Sam Saville.
Trailing 22-16 at the break, the Gulls went on the attack to start the second and a towering kick from Lindon McGrady produced a great result for his team.
White strayed onto the touchline when claiming the kick, giving the Seagulls a scrum feed and the resulting play saw a try to Liolevave, following on from a strong run from man mountain Kurt Bernard.
While McGrady’s conversion attempt to level the scores was waved away; that was soon forgotten as Tweed crossed again only three minutes later, with another big man in Ben Nakubuwai making his presence felt.
With the thought of a maiden win pressing down on them, Tweed’s execution while trying to press their advantage let them down, with another error handing the initiative back to the Devils.
Some exciting play saw them spread the ball and it eventuated in a try to Delouise Hoeter who ran inside to score. Murphy again converted for a slim 28-26 lead by the Devils with 17 minutes to play.
However, while they had been struggling the past few weeks, the Gulls attitude was not in question and a did not give up hope as the clock wound down.
Inspired perhaps by John Asiata’s star turn at halfback for the Cowboys the night before, prop Sironen attempted to put an early kick through – and although the unexpected play did not get through the legs of the defenders; the in the clamber to get to the ball, the Gulls did eventually pass the ball to a more ‘conventional’ kicker who got the ball in behind the defenders.
Although it was a messy follow-through, it proved effective, with Folau touching down for his second and a lead the Gulls didn’t relinquish – instead, adding a penalty goal late in the game to seal the result.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 34 (Tevita Folau 2, Lindon McGrady, Damian Sironen, Lamar Liolevave, Ben Nakubuwai tries; Lindon McGrady 4, Michael Burgess goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 28 (Javarn White 2, Matiu Love-Henry, Michael Lucas, Delouise Hoeter tries; Todd Murphy 4 goals) at Bishop Park.