By Jim O’Reilly/
Wynnum Manly Seagulls bounced back from Mitch Cronin Memorial Cup loss to overpower a very determined and disciplined Brisbane Tigers team.
The mood in the Wynnum Manly dressing shed prior to kick-off was pensive yet a little upbeat.
As players and officials walked past 100 gamers Aaron Rockley and Delouise Hoeter they would pause, embrace, congratulate them and wish them both luck. Then together these two exceptional young men led the Wynnum Manly Seagulls onto BMD Kougari to the cheers of a packed Chook Pen.
The Tigers were not drawn into the sentiment and were into the Seagulls from the opening kick-off. For 25 minutes, you could not separate the two teams and both defended valiantly. Despite some early errors from both sides the score was locked at 0-0.
Tigers’ Joseph Gilmour crashed over wide out for a try that was converted by Brayden Torpy and the Tigers had the jump on the Seagulls 6-0.
This shocked Wynnum Manly into action and on the back of some quick play the balls up the middle Jack Campagnolo scored a try and then converted it and the scores were locked up 6-6.
It was an unusually warm day and both teams were clearing the benches to give their big men a break in the heat. This and tiring players led to a lazy tackle effort by Matiu Love-Henry, who hung a hand out and got pinged for a dangerous tackle three minutes before half-time.
The Tigers decided on the penalty kick which Torpy successfully slotted and the Tigers were off to the sheds 8-6 in front.
In the sheds both coaches were imploring their charges to stick to their processes and structures back each other up.
The second half began much like the start of the first half with strong hit ups made more noticeable by the very loud grunts and groans from the players and their bodies collided in the battle for real estate in the opposition’s territory.
Tigers’ Torpy was having a particularly good game marshalling his team around the park.
Then a Bennett Leslie ‘hand in the ruck’ penalty gave the opportunity by Seagulls debutant Ryan O’Keefe to dive over out wide for a try on debut.
O’Keefe had to receive attention from the team doctor immediately after, such was his commitment to getting the ball down. Campagnolo slotted the conversion from right on the sideline on his way to a 100 per cent kicking game and the Seagulls were out by four points 12-8.
Two minutes later the Tigers scored off a Oliver Pascoe try close to the post and Torpy converted and this time the Tigers were up by two, 14-12.
It stayed this way for the next 10 minutes until perennial crowd favourite Love-Henry darted over the try line close to the posts for a try, his second in as many games and he and the crowd erupted. With the conversion the Seagulls were back in front 18-14.
Wynnum Manly kept pressing forcing the Tigers to absorb consecutive sets of six on several occasions and their defence was looking impenetrable, until a very quick thinking and fast David Mead pounced on a kick by Tristan Hope, racing through to catch the ball on the full and ran in form 30 metres out to seal the deal for the Wynnum Manly side. Campo converted leaving the final score 24-14.