Seagulls? lucky escape
By Hugh Kearney
TWEED Heads Seagulls staged a great escape in their Queensland Cup match against Easts Tigers at Piggabeen yesterday.
Leading 26-6 at the half-time break, Seagulls allowed Easts to score 18 unanswered points in the second half and come within a whisker of stealing the match.
"We were lucky to escape but we only had 12 sets in possession in the second half and turned it over 50 per cent of the time," Seagulls coach Steve Murphy said.
"It was very tough, but I'm happy we hung on.
"We didn't think we had the game won at half-time because we had all the ball in the first half and played well enough to win it."
Seagulls got off to a flying start with fullback James Wood justifying his return to the top grade with a try in the first two minutes. Easts responded quickly with a try to five-eighth Luke Branighan from a kick into the in-goal.
Wood was in again in the 10th minute followed by tries to winger Nat Barnes second-rower Tom Prichard.
Seagulls were leading 22-6 and seemingly able to run at will against the disorganised East defence.
A cross-field kick by half Tim Maccan had centre Jay McDermott crossing a short time later to extend Seagulls' lead to 26-6 at the break.
Easts came out for the second half a different team. With dynamic support of the player in possession and punishing defence, the Tigers gave Seagulls some of their own first-half medicine.
Tries to forward Scott Sipple, fullback Matt Lockyer and centre Shane Neumann had Easts knocking on the door with the score at 26-24 and 11 minutes remaining on the clock.
With less than two minutes to go bench player Steve Goodhew toed the ball through from dummy half close to Seagulls' line for five-eighth Branighan to dive through and claim a try.
But referee Justin Eastwood judged Branighan offside and the relieving penalty proved Seagulls' saving grace.
In the last minute of the game Easts' players Branighan and Mark Cantoni as well as Seagulls' captain Matthew King were all given 10 minutes in the sin bin, with Cantoni on report for an incident in the play-the-ball.