The Romano Group Seagulls yesterday paid the greatest possible tribute to the Tweed Heads premiers of 2007 when they defied their last-placed position on the ladder to beat ladder leaders Redcliffe 21-4 at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
The Gulls of today attended a reunion of the club’s only state league champions the night before the match and watched video of the 28-18 victory against the Dolphins, who were chasing their sixth premiership in their ninth grand final in 11 years.
The inspired side then went out the next day and showed the spirit of ’07 with heroes of that title like Brad Davis, Tim Maccan, Nathaneal Barnes, Shannon Walker and Matthew Pow looking on. They were comprehensive in their defeat of the surprised Dolphins from the start.
Winger Brayden McGrady crossed in the fourth minute from a shift to the left and in the 15th minute the Seagulls were in again with second-rower Lamar Liolevave latching onto a perfectly weighted grubber into the in-goal from halfback Michael Burgess who put in by far his most dominant performance of the season.
The Gulls led 14-0 at half-time after weathering an aggressive period of play from the Dolphins in the back end of the first half, with Burgess again the creator from a raid down the short side in the 30th minute finishing with Brayden McGrady crossing for a double. McGrady converted.
While the Dolphins crossed in the 50th minute into the second half through Curtis Johnston, the Dolphin comeback many were expecting did not eventuate as the commitment of the Seagulls defence – aided by their lowest error rate with the ball of the season – held firm.
Tweed were without doubt also greatly guided by their best representation of Gold Coast Titans players all season which included fullback William Zillman in his second match back from a calf injury, Eddy Pettybourne who was outstanding up front in his third game back from a long injury stint, centre John Olive, prop Ben Nakubuwai and 20-year-old Max King who returned from injury after impressive as an NRL rookie this season.
“We had 17 players who gave everything they had, there wasn’t a poor performance amongst us and errors were overcome by pure desperation,” said coach Aaron Zimmerle who said it was the most inspiring performance by his team in 105 games in the job.
“I’m very proud of them; that’s the greatest win I have been involved for a bunch of blokes doing it against the very best team in the competition.
“Hopefully it is a kick-start to what we can do for the rest of the season.”
The only survivor from 2007 premiership-winning side, dreadlocked centre James Wood, said: “That was very special. We’d won one game from 11 and they’d lost two and were top of the table.
“We just put in for each other and we have to not be happy with that and leave it as the best win of the year; we have to put that effort in every week from now.”
The game was still in the balance until the 72nd minute when left winger Peter Lee, who had an up and down day under the high ball, put through a perfect grubber or Lindon McGrady to seal the match at 20-4 after Lindon McGrady’s conversion.
Burgess rubbed salt into the wound with a field goal in the 76th minute.
While the Dolphins were below their best, Broncos-contracted prop Matthew Lodge certainly looked every bit an NRL player as the two packs ripped into each other. Pettybourne led the Seagulls’ charge, Liolevave was outstanding and former Manly prop Carne Doyla-Manga was another who relished the contact in an effort by the Seagulls that was first class across the park.
Brayden McGrady aggravated an ankle injury that has troubled him for a while but the reduction to a three-man bench for the second half didn’t slow their momentum.
The Seagulls side has shown tremendous character in their response since the embarrassing 58-0 home loss to Sunshine coast Falcons in round nine. They travelled to Cairns and went down just 6-4 to Northern Pride before taking fourth-placed Easts Tigers down to the wire in a28-16 loss and now have beaten the competition leaders.
Next weekend they travel to Rockhampton to take on the CQ Capras (1.40pm Sunday, televised by Channel 9).
Tweed Heads Seagulls 21 (B McGrady 2, L Liolevave, L McGrady tries; L McGrady 2 goals; M Burgess field goal) def. Redcliffe Dolphins 4 (C Johnston try) at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
Pictured: Winners are grinners ... Sam Saville, Max King, John Olive, Eddy Pettybourne, William Zillman, Ben Nakabuwai and Lamar Liolevave after full-time. The blend of Titans and Seagulls regulars came to the fore.