Neil Cadigan

Having virtually secured their first finals appearance since 2014, the Ben Campbell Building Group Tweed Heads Seagulls are playing for a home semi-final when they take on Easts Tigers at Piggabeen Sports complex on Sunday (2pm).

The Seagulls sit in sixth position, one competition point above the Tigers and two ahead of eighth-placed Redcliffe Dolphins. The Intrust Super Cup finals system is the same as the NRL’s with fifth (v eighth) and sixth (v seventh) earning home semi-finals in the first-week elimination games.

A victory against Easts, ahead of the last two rounds in which Tweed play the out-of-the-running Souths Logan Magpies and Northern Pride, would put the Seagulls in a great position to be hosting a finals game at Piggabeen on September 8.

Coach Ben Woolf stated that last Sunday’s clash with Ipswich Jets, who were desperate to stay in finals calculations, was a finals-like occasion and Sunday’s showdown will no different.

“We want to stay sixth and play a home semi-final, and to ensure that happens that we pretty much have to beat Easts,” Woolf says.

“So like last weekend against the Jets, the players know they have to rise to that occasion (they beat Ipswich 22-18 away) with the attitude that finals footy has come early.

“We beat Easts 16-4 in one of our best performances this season in round 10, and we will have to play to that quality again.

“Our desperation in defence against Ipswich 15-20 minutes when they had all the ball was tremendous and we have to build on that.”

A key man for Tweed Heads will be Gold Coast Titans marquee player Ash Taylor who showed signs that his confidence is returning after a stretch out of the game when some class touches played a major hand in three of the Seagulls’ four tries against the Jets. He took control of much of his team’s attack with authority in the best of his three performances (two for Tweed, one for the Titans) back from his spell.

Prop John Palavi, a former Warriors NRL player, has been outstanding with his up-front leadership and the Gulls’ pack, that has gained an edge with the switching of centres Kody Parsons and Ioane Seiuli to the back row, will have to be at their best.

Easts will field Tonga Test centre and former Warriors star Solomone Kata. The powerful runner made a mid-season switch to Melbourne Storm and the Tigers act as one of their feeder teams.

He will partner fellow Storm player Marion Seve (12 NRL games in 2019) in the centres, who will provide a big challenge for Seagulls’ pair Treymain Spry and last week’s two-try hero Lee Turner.

The Ladies in League round game kicks-off at 2pm, following the Hastings Deering Colts match at 12.30.