Mackay Cutters gave the Ben Campbell Building Group Seagulls a lesson in basic fundamentals and patience in springing a 30-16 upset victory at Piggabeen Sports Complex today.
The Cutters had all the momentum and dominated possession and position in the last 50 minutes, coming from 12-0 down to score the next 30 points.
It was a costly loss for the Seagulls who could have skipped six points clear of ninth-placed Ipswich Jets, who went down to Norths Devils in the first week of the split round.
Now they have a crucial encounter with the Jets next round while the Cutters have put themselves into finals contention, particularly if eighth-placed Redcliffe (two competition points ahead of the Cutters) go down to second-placed Burleigh Bears next weekend.
The Cutters virtually starved the Seagulls out of the match after scoring their first try four minutes before half-time. Led by a smart kicking game by halfback Sam Cook, and aggressive second-half forward-control led by prop Alex Gerrard, the Cutters scored three tries in the space of 13 minutes either side of the break to turn the game on its head.
It took 30 minutes, when Broncos-contracted winger Xavier Coates (pictured above) regained possession from a short kick-off, before Tweed played the ball in the Cutters’ 20-metre zone in the second half. Until then penalties and errors ruined any chance of mounting pressure and swinging momentum.
“Lack of possession in the second half killed us really,” lamented Seagulls coach Ben Woolf.
“In the first 10 minutes of the second half we touched the ball twice and made errors both times. They went seven sets without an error which fatigued us and we couldn’t wrestle possession back.
“Our ruck became a bit loose defensively and they rolled through us and we couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole unfortunately.
“They did a good job controlling the ball, their kicking game was really good and they had a plan around that and their kick-chase was really good.
“We only had three completed sets in the second half and that was a credit to the Cutters for playing well, doing the simple things right, being patient and being prepared to wear us down.”
Kody Parsons, who has impressed in his two games since moving from the centres to second row, initiated the scoring when he shook off two defenders from close range off a Luke Jurd pass. Lindon McGrady converted for a 6-0 lead after 13 minutes.
After the home side had stoically defended their line for an extended period, Ash Taylor inflicted his class into the clash in the 29th minute when he put Ioane Seiuli through the line with a clever no-look short pass and Seiuli found McGrady backing up with two others for a good try that started in Seagulls’ territory. McGrady added the extras for 12-0
The Cutters were on the board in the 36th minute, giving them confidence to take to half-time. Winger Sheldon Bobbert crossed after halves Cook and Lloyd White combined in a slick shift to the left. Marcus Jensen’s conversion made it 12-6.
The Cutters kept the momentum going after the break too. Just three minutes into the second half Gerrard pushed through the defence close to the line to level the scores, then centre Jensen latched onto a Cook grubber into the in-goal only six minutes later with Jensen’s conversion making it 18-12.
Cook set up a try for Jordan Kenworthy with a dummy outside and neat pass in from 10 metres after Mackay, with all the running since the break, gained possession from another Seagulls’ error. Jensen’s goal made it 24 points in just 25 minutes to the visitors.
With 12 minutes remaining hooker Reuben Cotter completed the dramatic Mackay fightback. After gaining possession from a scrum after a lucky bounce forced a Tweed knock-on from a last-tackle grubber, Cotter too easily got over the line when he squared up after throwing two dummies as he ran across in front of the tryline. Jensen made it five from five for a 30-12 lead.
Talor Walters crossed for a consolation Tweed Heads try in the 76th minute – 47 minutes after their previous try when they were dominating the match.
Mackay Cutters 30 (S Bobbert, A Gerrard, M Jensen J Kenworthy R Cotter tries; Jensen 5 goals) def. Tweed Heads Seagulls 16 (K Parsons, L McGrady, T Walter tries; McGrady 2 goals) at Piggabeen Sports Complex.