Seagulls flying high

EARLY pre-season signs say Tweed Seagulls and Burleigh Bears will he hard to beat in the Bycroft Cup this year.

Both clubs have scrapped their FOGS Cup teams in favour of using the Gold Coast Rugby League competition to feed players directly to the Intrust Super Cup.

The Seagulls return to Gold Coast football for the first time in years, while the Burleigh Bears strengthens its existing side.

The two clubs met in the grand final of the pre-season nines competition at Bilambil on Sunday, with Burleigh running out winners 28-6.

The Bilambil Jets showed it was still a force, taking a narrow loss to the eventual winners in the semi-finals.

Seagulls coach Nathan Cross had no issue with the grand final blowout and was glad his players were getting an early taste of success.

With only nine players available at the start of the day, Cross said tiredness played a part in the final.

“We had a core group of guys here with a lot of ability who got us through our pool,” he said.

“The last couple of years, for a lot of these guys (there has been a lot of losses) ... they love being back in a winning side and back enjoying their footy. I wasn't one bit concerned about the result at the end of the day.”

Cross, who played for the Tweed Seagulls in 2006 before moving to Byron Bay, said it was a pleasant surprise for his side to make the final, and a nice confidence-booster. It builds on a successful trial against Ipswich a fortnight ago when Tweed won 28-4.

“The biggest thing is the confidence. I just want the guys hanging around, happy to be here and enjoying themselves.

“The guys are going to be hanging round the coast playing great sides this year and enjoying their footy again, and that is when you can play at your best, when you are enjoying it.”

Meanwhile, for the Bilambil Jets, it was the first time the side had played since losing the grand final to Southport last year, and the first time new coach Jim Lenihan had seen his players in a game situation.

The team beat all three other teams in its pool before drawing the winning Burleigh team in the semi-final, which it narrowly lost.

“I am really happy with the blokes, they played well and were unlucky to get beaten by the eventual winners Burleigh, and we certainly weren't disgraced,” Lenihan said.

The new coach, who would like to see more players at training each Tuesday and Thursday nights, said the nines format allowed him to see some of the individual skills at his disposal.

“Certainly what it does do is that it allows the guys to show off their individual skills,” he said. “In 13-a-side football, it is a team-based game, but in nines it is very much an individual game. You can certainly see the individual skill sets and abilities.”



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