Until last week Cameron Cullen hadn’t experienced a Titans-insider build-up to the local derby between our two feeder teams, Burleigh Bears and Tweed Heads Seagulls.
There’s the light-hearted ‘trash talk’, text messages, the extra enthusiasm at training with not just current Titans-contracted players but former players all looking forward to what is always a passionate, physical derby.
And for the winners, the bragging rights afterwards are worth it – for weeks until the next derby.
For Cullen, who has been one of the I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears’ best in their two Intrust Super Cup victories that has put them top of the ladder, it was an eye-opener but he did plenty to ensure he finished the week with the right to be chirpy at training for a while to go.
Cullen, Matt Srama and David Hala were the current Titans players in the Bears side that beat the Seagulls 36-26 at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
In the Seagulls line-up were Leva Li, Kierran Moseley, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Robinson and John Olive. Mingled between the teams too were recent Titans in Jamie Dowling, Jamal Fogarty who, with Srama, switched from Tweed to Burleigh this season, Sam Irwin, plus Shannon Walker and Sami Sauilima who trained with the Titans in the pre-season and former under-20s players Hayden Schwass, Connor Broadhurst and Josh Berkers (Bears) and Jackson Clarke (Seagulls).
“It’s the first time I’d experienced all the banter before the match between the Titans boys; it was a lot of fun actually but once we got on the field it was really fair dinkum,” five-eighth Cullen said.
“It’s pretty good to have the bragging rights until next time we play. It was a pretty lively game.
“We were a bit sloppy in patches but we kept competing which got us the win.
“There’s a lot of confidence in the side and everyone had gelled really well, and there’s good depth and with a lot who players who have played in the NRL. But we know we need to improve, which I think we will over the next few weeks.”
One of only three unbeaten teams left in the competition, Burleigh set up the win with an exceptional opening 20 minutes that saw them race to an 18-0 lead.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan was happy with back-to-back victories but know his side has to improve.
“I thought it was great to get the win and start the year with two wins, but we probably didn’t play our best,” he said.
“If we’re not playing our best and still getting away with a win that’s not a bad sign, but we’ve still got plenty to work on this week and look for a better effort next week against Sunny Coast.”
The Bears got away to a dream start when former Gull Jamal Fogarty turned the ball inside for a rampaging Paterika Vaivai who barged over the line for the opening try.
Shortly after, Sami Sauiluma showed why his acquisition was so highly touted during the pre-season by setting up a contender for try of the year.
With nothing on, Tyler Chadburn threw the ball wide to Sauiluma who fended off two defenders to break into the clear. He then chipped ahead, regathered and offloaded to a supporting Fogarty who went in to score a special try.
Shortly after, Sauiluma showed brute strength to barge over the line and score his own try and stretch the lead out to 18-0.
It was a rugby league clinic early on from the Bears, but the Tweed Seagulls are a team known for battling through adversity and through some exciting play on the left, set up a try for Leva Li in the corner.
Five minutes later, returning livewire Shannon Walker showed that he has still got it by standing up several defenders and setting up a try for Shaun Carney making it 18-10 at the break.
Burleigh suffered a setback early in the second half with stalwart lock Darren Griffiths carried off the field with a nasty looking ankle injury.
It didn’t slow them on the scoreboard, however, as Matt Srama snuck his way out of dummy half and over the try line to extend the lead to 14.
Tweed stayed in touch when Walker again proved too much to handle in the 57th minute; this time stepping his way to his own try.
Burleigh, however, were deserving winners on the day and back-to-back tries to Fogarty and Broadhurst in the 61st and 67th minutes respectively closed out the contest.
Tweed scored twice in the final 10 minutes – once through Michael Burgess and a second for Walker (this time an 80 metre runaway effort) – bringing the final score to 36-26.
Bears back-rower Hayden Schwass, last year’s under-20s True Titan award and runner up in the player of the year award, was man of the match and has impressed enormously with his adaption to Queensland Cup level, having played 80 minutes in both games.
“He was excellent today. I thought he was easily our best player,” Lenihan said.
“He started on the edge and then went in to the middle and really tied us up well defensively in there once Griffo got that injury.
“He certainly didn’t look out of place one bit, I thought he played really well.”
The Tweed will look to bounce back next weekend against PNG in Port Moresby, while the Bears will return to Pizzey Park in when they host the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
BURLEIGH BEARS 36 (Jamal Fogarty 2, Paterika Vaivai, Sami Sauilima, Matthew Srama, Connor Broadhurst tries; Tyler Chadburn 6 goals) def. TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 26 (Shannon Walker 2, Leva Li, Shaun Carney, Michael Burgess tries; Nathanael Barnes 3 goals) at Pizzey Park
BURLEIGH BEARS: Tyler Chadburn, Kurtis Rowe, Sami Sauiluma, Connor Broadhurst, Oliver Regan, Cameron Cullen, Jamal Fogarty, Luke Page, Pat Politoni, Paterika Vaivai, Jamie Dowling, Hayden Schwass, Darren Griffiths. Interchange: Matt Srama, Josh Ailaomai, Josh Berkers, David Hala.
TWEED SEAGULLS: Shannon Walker, Leva Li, James Wood, Shaun Carney, Nathaniel Barnes, Sam Irwin, Michael Burgess, Will Bugden, Kierran Moseley, Tuiala Togitasi, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Robinson, Sam Saville. Interchange: Dane Clarke, Jackson Clarke, Blake Anderson, John Olive.