The Ben Campbell Building Group Seagulls will go into the opening round of the Intrust Super Cup with tremendous confidence after competing strongly against Burleigh Bears in both senior trials at Pizzey Park on Saturday.
While results are not the most important aspect of pre-season matches, the fact the Seagulls won the main game 20-18 and lost 24-20 in ‘reserve grade’ against a club renowned for its depth and quality at ISC level will give Tweed a positive boost ahead of the opening clash with PNG Hunters at Piggabeen Sports Complex on March 11.
“It was a really good effort, more positive in key areas of the game than our previous trial (against Souths Logan) and we’ll take a lot of confidence out of it,” said head coach Ben Woolf.
“Obviously we were scrappy at times but the overall intent and effort in both games was really good.
“In areas like getting out of our own end, we were excellent and while we gave away a few penalties we defended them really well, which is a reflection on defensive attitude.
“Burleigh had blokes who had played plenty of ISC or even NRL in their second side but we took it to them physically with a team which included some Colts players even backing up from the earlier game or had been brought up because we had a few minor injuries.”
Tweed were without key signings Christian Hazard and John Palavi, who played with the Titans against the Cowboys, and last year’s skipper Cheyne Whitelaw. Yet the new depth of the squad was evident with some good individual performances.
Halfback Luke Jurd, who played for Cronulla’s premiership-winning Jersey Flegg (under-20s) team last season, is another newcomer who performed well on Saturday, giving Woolf another option in the halves.
Talor Walters and regular five-eighth of the past two seasons, Lindon McGrady, alternated between five-eighth and fullback outside of Jurd, in the absence of Hazard.
Woolf will have strength and depth in his halves, but perhaps lack of familiarity leading into the ISC opener. The Titans have allocated Ryley Jacks, Tyrone Roberts and AJ Simson to the Seagulls should any not be used in the NRL, and one is likely to be in the Gulls’ halves in the opening round while Hazard is yet to play a game.
While almost all Titans outside backs have been allocated to the Bears, halves and hookers have been earmarked for the Seagulls which means established players like Michael Gordon, Nathan Peats or Mitch Rein are on the Seagulls’ feeder list. Others include prop Leilani Latu, who played several games in black and white last year, Max King, Keegan Hipgrave and Bryce Cartwright, who have also all played for the Seagulls, plus Will Matthews.
Lamar Liolevave again played in the centres, a move Woolf is likely to stick with for round one, with Liolevave, Tevita Folau and Ryland Jacobs all showing what assets they are in making good yardage from the Seagulls’ half.