The Ben Campbell Building Group Tweed Heads Seagulls will be boosted by the return of three key players for their local derby clash with the in-form Burleigh Bears at Piggabeen Sports Complex on Sunday in the Channel 9 televised clash (1.10pm kick-off).
Fullback Talor Walters (back) and hooker Christian Hazard (foot) are back from injury, while Queensland Under-20s centre Treymain Spry will be back on deck after playing for the junior Maroons in Wednesday night’s State of Origin curtain-raiser in Sydney.
The Gold Coast derby is sure to be a willing, high-class affair, with both teams well into finals contention for the first time in many years. Burleigh currently sit second on the ladder and Tweed seventh.
The Seagulls have lost their past three clashes by four points or less – to PNG Hunters (20-16), Townsville Blackhawks (24-22) and Wynnum Manly (20-16) – but have performed well in the face of injuries and coach Ven Woolf is happy with the progress of his side as they prepare to take on their fourth top-four team in five weeks.
The Bears, who have dominated the derby clashes since 2015, have won 11 of their past 12 games this season so the Seagulls, who have won five from seven clashes at Piggabeen, know the task ahead of them this Sunday.
“These derby clashes always have a lot of feeling in them, and we know we have to improve on the last few weeks to match Burleigh,” Woolf said.
“They’re in very good form, but we went with them for 60 minutes earlier this season at Pizzey Park before they got away from us in the back end. So we have to be at our best against them.
“We have played really well in the past two weeks, and it’s just been some crucial errors that we paid for that let us down. We know we have to be better, but there have been plenty of positives in the past few weeks that we can build on.”
This clash will be the first time the two teams have met late in the season with both team still in finals contention since Tweed entered the Queensland Cup competition in 2003.
Burleigh won the Round 3 clash in March 30-4 at Pizzey Park, but led only 10-4 with 18 minutes remaining before a try against the run of play proved a big momentum-turner and they ran in a further three tries in the final nine minutes.
The Bears’ only loss in the past 12 weeks was a 32-16 defeat to runaway competition leaders Sunshine Coast Falcons. However, the Seagulls have shown what they are capable of this season with five successive wins before going down to the Falcons in Round 11.
With the Titans away this weekend, a good crowd is expected with local fans encouraged to head down to Piggabeen.
Several Titans players will be on show, including Will Matthews, Leilani Latu and Spry for the Seagulls, Brenko Lee and recent Newcastle Knights recruit Sam Stone for the Bears.
Titans newcomer Tanah Boyd, Queensland Under-20s halfback Tanah Boyd, also play for Burleigh.