Seagulls grind out major semi with Mustangs
By ADAM WRATTEN
SEAGULLS clinched the first spot in this year's BCU Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final with a lessthan impressive 18-11 win over Murwillumbah at Piggabeen Sports Complex yesterday.
Worryingly for both coaches, their sides were guilty of poor ball control - even though they played tough footy - in this major semifinal.
"If I was in the crowd I'd probably have been asking for my money back," Mustangs coach Con Theodossiou said after the game.
Murwillumbah will now have to play an in-form Marist Brothers next week at Stan Sercombe Oval.
HOWEVER, playing with the advantage of a strong wind behind their backs the Mustangs hit back on the quarter hour mark when winger Ricky Lang climbed highest to take a cross-field kick from hooker Jarrod Brown. He neatly grounded the ball in the corner.
Interchange player Andrew Pollard then brought the Mustangs back to level terms crashing over from in close after a good off-load by prop Steve Kirkham.
A Matt Harley field goal in the 36th minute gave Murwillumbah an 11-10 lead at the break.
In the second half, both sides were unable to build pressure and find their rhythm, failing to complete sets.
Wood got his second of the match in the 60th minute capitalising on a good grubber kick from fiveeighth Paul Rolls to put Seagulls back in front.
Then with four minutes remaining, Jeffries dived over from in close to kill off Mustang's hopes.
SEAGULLS 18 (Tries, J Wood 2, D Evans, G Jeffries; Goals, S Gray) d MURWILLUMBAH 11 (Tries, R Lang, A Pollard; Goals, R Murphy; Field goals; M Harley).
Meanwhile in Brisbane forward Petero Civoniceva reckons Brisbane skipper Darren Lockyer is ready to rip into the National Rugby League finals following a three-week stint on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Marist Brothers brought an end to Cudgen's season on Saturday with a 34-10 victory in their minor semifinal at Crozier Field.
(Cudgen are expected to lodge an official complaint today with league officials concerning comments allegedly made by the referee after that game - see story Page 28).
At Piggabeen, a late James Wood try ensured Seagulls won. But it wasn't pretty.
"It was a bad show ... (demonstrated) by the number of points not scored," Seagulls coach Troy McCarthy said.
"Hopefully, it was just one of those days.
"We have got a lot of work to do. Our boys looked a bit underdone, they were flat, especially off the defensive line."
Theodossiou said the second half "was probably the worst half of footy I have seen from both sides".
"It was not good semifinals football, (but) it was tough," he said.
In the game, Seagulls got off to a flying start racing out to a 10-0 lead within 10 minutes.
Skipper Daniel Evans opening the scoring in the fifth minute when he eluded a couple of tackles to dash over from about 10m out.
When centre James Wood went in a few minutes later, again in the corner after Seagulls spun the ball from one side of the field to the other, it looked like the minor premiers were on song.