Aquis Titans five-eighth Cameron Cullen, pushing strongly for an NRL debut, had another outstanding game for the in-form Burleigh Bears while William Zillman and Karl Lawton made successful comebacks from injury for Tweed Heads on Sunday.
Zillman scored the Seagulls’ opening try and made the assist for Leva Li’s score, which was the only other try Tweed secured against table topping Townsville Blackhawks, and got through the entire game with no issues with his troublesome calf injury.
Another Titan, Jeff Lynch, was also back from injury (back) for the Bears and played a solid 55 minutes, which is another positive development for the Titans’ depth as we approach the sixth round of the NRL competition.
The Bears sit second on the ladder after a 26-6 win against Norths Devils with four wins from five matches. Cullen was again at the centre of much of the Bears’ structure and played a leading role in three of their four tries. .
Cullen put on a neat short-ball for Jamie Dowling to score the team’s first try. Early in the second half Cullen kicked ahead for Kurtis Rowe on the last tackle. Rowe gathered the ball, gave it back to Cullen, who then put Jamal Fogarty over for the try. Later Cullen showed good acceleration to break the line and passed to the supporting for his second try.
Cullen and Fogarty have formed a strong pairing in the halves with Fogarty, the 22-year-old who was on the Titans books until this season, picking up 18 points from two tries and five goals.
“I thought today was our best game that we’ve had,” Bears coach Jim Lenihan said after the match. “Even though we were three from four coming in, we’ve been drifting in and out of games with our consistency and our mental toughness.
“Sometimes when it looked like the job was done we would switch off, whereas today I thought (we) kept turning up for each other which was the most satisfying part of the win.”
It was a tight, evenly-matched game early on before the Bears pulled away in the second half.
“It was pleasing that we held them out for that whole second half. We’re really try to grow as a tight team in that sort of situation and have that be a bit of a focus,” Lenihan said.
It was a different story for the Seagulls who took on a very well-drilled Blackhawks who are the only unbeaten side after five rounds. After scoring first to lead 4-0 after four minutes, the Seagulls competed well for 20 minutes but made far too many unforced errors to squander possession – which can be costly against such a precise team as the Blackhawks.
After being behind 14-4 at half-time, the Seagulls were outscored 28-4 in the second half as the Blackhawks found an extra gear with the ball they were gifted.
However the positives were the returns of Zillman who played the entire match and Lawton who played 70 minutes as five-eighth, patrolling the right edge, before suffering cramps and having to be replaced.
The Seagulls fielded Titans squad members Zillman, Lawton, Li, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Robinson and Kierran Moseley but were no match for the Blackhawks who had several Cowboys players in their line-up.
BURLEIGH BEARS 26 (Fogarty 2, Dowling, Schwass tries; Fogarty 5 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 6 (Smith try; Murphy goal) at Bishop Park.
BURLEIGH BEARS: Tyler Chadburn, Kurtis Rowe, Sami Sauiluma, Connor Broadhurst, Oliver Regan, Cameron Cullen, Jamal Fogarty, Luke Page, Pat Politoni, Louise Fanene, Jamie Dowling, Hayden Schwass, Jeff Lynch. Interchange: Paterika Vaivai, Thomas Rowles, Josh Ailaomai, Parahi Wilson.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS (Murgha 2, Fredrick Hoeter, Minoga, Hughes, Pangai, Norford, Parker-Walshe tries; Jensen 3, Laybutt 2 goals) beat Tweed Heads Seagulls 8 (Zillman, Li tries) ay Piggabeen Sports Reserve.
TWEED SEAGULLS: William Zillman, Shannon Walker, Leva Li, James Wood, Nathaniel Barnes, Karl Lawton, Sam Irwin, Will Bugden, Sam Meskell, Mitch Sharp, Ryan Simpkins, Matt Robinson, Sam Saville. Interchange: Blake Anderson, Dane Clarke, Cory Blair, Kierran Moseley.