Coach Ben Woolf said final footy had arrived early for the Ben Campbell Building Group Seagulls such was the importance of the round 20 clash with the ninth-placed Ipswich Jets at North Ipswich Reserve yesterday.
That certainly proved the cash with the Seagulls having to desperately defend their line for the final 15 minutes to hold onto a 22-18 lead and all-but confirm a finals position with three rounds remaining.
And the finals intensity will continue this Sunday at Piggabeen Sports Complex with Tweed having the incentive of keeping sixth spot and earning a home semi-final if they can beat Easts Tigers, who are running seventh.
That would leave them needing to beat out-of-the-running Souths Logan and Northern Pride to have a sixth v seventh finals clash at home.
“The intensity was definitely finals-like at the end of the game and our defensive effort was really good,” said Woolf.
“In the last 15-20 minutes they had six or seven sets at our line but we scrambled and covered them. We showed some really good desperation to keep them out.
“It was ball control that got us home in the end; there were a few areas not so great but for most of the time we played well and to lift a gear in defence when the game was on the line was really pleasing to see.
“Our aim is to finish top six and get a home semi-final, so we’re playing for sixth spot against Easts this Sunday then we’d have to finish beating Souths and Northern Pride.
“Our fate is in our hands if we keep winning.”
The Gulls’ effort against the unpredictable Jets was led up front by props John Palavi and Jarrod Morfett and hooker Christian Hazard (pictured) who was returning after a month out with a hamstring injury.
And halfback Ash Taylor showed his class off the back of their efforts, creating three of Tweed’s four tries – two with smart passes and one with a kick.
The Seagulls had a bit glut of possession in the first 10 minutes with repeat sets and penalties. Centre Lee Turner opened the scoring when he charged through some space created by a long ball from Taylor, stepping inside a defender and crossing the line.
Jets winger Marmin Barba scored twice six minutes apart to give Ipswich a 12-6 lead after 21 minutes before Turner scored his second. Left winger Rowland Jacobs picked up a rebound from a Taylor kicked and stepped and offloaded in traffic to Turner who crossed.
Jack Cook crossed soon after off an inside ball from Taylor close to the line, beating two tackles from 10 metres out. Lindon McGrady converted two of the three first-half tries to give the Seagulls a 16-12 half-time lead.
However, it took only three minutes of the second half for the Jets to grab the lead when five-eighth Josh Cleeland showed good footwork and evasive skills to step through the Tweed defence and give the Jets an 18-16 lead.
Second-rower Ioane Seiuli put Tweed back in front when he ran onto a pass from dummy-half Brent Woolf close to the line and crashed over (our main photo), with McGrady’s conversion making it 22-18 with 26 minutes remaining.
The Jets were soon after pressing Tweed’s line again and kept coming at the Seagulls for much of the last quarter of the game. Second-rower Ben White was held up with 12 minutes to go and soon after Ipswich received a seven-tackle set and charged upfield and on the back of a Barba break but a desperate tackle by Lamar Liolevave saved a try for the Seagulls.
The Jets rolled the ball into the in-goal and their supporters left their seats but fullback McGrady covered and a Tweed penalty relieving the pressure.
Sunday’s clash with the Tigers is just as important for the Seagulls. They played well to beat the Tigers 16-4 at Langlands Park in round 10 and need to be on-song to repeat that effort and retain sixth place.
Tweed Heads Seagulls 22 (L Turner 2, J Cook, I Seiuli tries; L McGrady 3 goals) def. Ipswich Jets 18 (M Barba 2, J Cleeland tries; Barba 3 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.