The season has ended in frustration for the Romano Group Seagulls’ A-grade side, with an injury toll resembling the Titans’ at its worst this season, yet coach Darryl Fisher looks back on 2017 with admiration for the way his large squad dug in.
The Seagulls limped, literally, into the elimination semi-final against Bilambil last Saturday with several regular members of their strongest team this season either elevated to Intrust Super Cup or out injured. They went down 28-24.
They could only field 16 players after in-form five-eighth Kobi Annand suffered a hamstring injury at training the night before the match and had to withdraw.
After becoming the first team to beat minor premiers Burleigh Bears (they lost just two games in 17 matches), the Gulls lost four players to injury while the ISC side also lost key players in Sam Saville, Michael Burgess and others.
A week later, another four of Fisher’s side were sidelined, so just when they should have been building momentum from their best win of the season, they were understrength for the remaining five rounds and stocks were at their lowest when the finals came last weekend.
They still led fifth-placed Bilambil 12-10 at half-time but, after being behind 28-18, scored through hooker Jenan Parrish with three minutes to go to almost pull off a courageous victory but couldn’t find the try line one more time.
If they’d only survived one more week they would have had Jayden Baker, Regan Muir and Sam Carson back from Intrust Super Cup and hopefully Jack Cook, skipper Josh Hervey, Paul Sheedy and Kurtis McDonald returning this weekend or the next. All have been among the Gulls’ best in most matches.
“There were 17 players from the senior squad injured, and with the small Colts squad playing the next day, we couldn’t bring up any of them either,” said Fisher.
“I just felt sorry for the guys who have given a lot this season but after beating Burleigh we just never got close to having the side together that we hoped we would take into the finals.
“We had no halves left when Kobi dropped out and he was a big piece of the puzzle for us all season.
“After starting with 16 players, Jackson Clarke suffered a jaw injury (thankfully not broken) which weakened us even more.
“They were brave; our goal line defence was tremendous for massive periods but our attack was a bit clunky because we had several players out of position and they hadn’t had much time together. We couldn’t quite match the intensity thrown at them at that time.”
The two senior teams used 51 players this season but even with that size squad, they could field only 33 last weekend.
“It was challenging trying to manage the side of the squad we had, and I felt obliged to give everyone a run and opportunity to impress,” Fisher said.
“And with injuries in the second half of the season we never got the chance to consistently put close to our best team on the field; nowhere near the side I expected we’d take into the semi-finals.
“But it is a young squad, with just a handful of players who had played against men before, and at their best they could compete with anyone in the competition and some stepped up to Cup and played well, which was pleasing.
“So there were a lot of positives to take out of the season. Yet from a team perspective and for the players who I know would have loved to have done what they could have in the finals, it was a pretty disappointing end.
“As a group of individuals, they have played some good football and progressed well during the season. I’m looking forward to seeing what some of them do in 2018.”