Seagulls outpace lumbering Giants
By STEVE SPINKS
TWEED Heads flyer Jay McDermott scored three tries as the Seagulls overcame Mullumbimby 26-12 in a bruising encounter in Round 18 of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, on Saturday night.
The centre's pace and leg drive was simply to much for the Giants to handle and he proved the difference in one of the best matches of the season.
"He (McDermott) has very good footwork," Mullumbimby coach Dave Latta said.
"And with his strength, it's a fair bit to contend with."
McDermott, his centre partner James Wood, winger Graham Jeffries and halfback Daniel Evans proved a menace all night to the scrambling Giants defence.
They simply had too much pace for Mullumbimby.
While outgunned, the Giants never gave up and provided some stiff opposition with prop Adam McKenzie and second-rower Craig Abbott magnificent in the tight exchanges.
Their commitment brought the best out of their team-mates and even got the home side back in the match.
With no thought for self-preservation the duo kept putting their bodies on the line time after the time. They were like watching action figures!
Seagulls led 8-0 after only 12 minutes and thoughts of another whitewash was in the minds of all spectators at the ground after Tweed had hammered Mullum 58-12 earlier in the season.
But inspired by McKenzie and Abbott, the Giants scraped and scrambled to be down only 8-6 at half-time and a try to halfback Adrian Browning in the first minute of the second half gave the hosts an unlikely 12-8 lead.
Every Seagulls mistake was greeted with a cheer from the parochial home crowd and an upset seemed to be in the air.
But even Mullumbimby supporters had to admire McDermott as he crashed over for his second try to give his side a 14-12 lead mid-way through the second half, which was soon extended to 20-12.
Mullum were still in it when Tweed five-eighth Paul Rolls was sent off for lifting with 15 minutes to go as the penalty gave Mullum some good field position and they hammered the Seagulls' tryline.
From the resulting pressure, substitute Sean Doherty stepped through the defence and looked to have scored a try which would have given Mullumimby some hope.
However, referee Ryan Hammond ruled he had knocked-on in forcing the ball.
On the next set of six, McDermott put the match beyond doubt with a stunning 25 metre dash in which he beat at least four defenders.
"Their defence was just great," Latta admitted.
"We just couldn't get across the tryline."
Despite the loss there was plenty of positives to be gleaned from the game for the hosts.
McKenzie and Abbott's form was superb and they were well backed up by lock Paul Mitchell, second-rower Brett Archibald, hooker Bernard Browning, halfback Adrian Browning and winger Joel Christie, while Doherty and Aaron East provided plenty of momentum from the bench.
Mullumbimby need only stiffen their fringe defence and find a few more options in attack to be a genuine premiership contender.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 26 (Jay McDermott 3, Graham Jeffries 2 tries; Scott Grey 3 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 12 (Tim Abbott, Adrian Browning tries; Paul Latta 2 goals). Half-time: 8-6 Seagulls. Penalties: 9-7 Seagulls. Referee: Ryan Hammond.
Reserve grade: TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 38 (Curtis Finn 3, John Keating 2, Karl Wood, Jarrod DeThierry tries; Jarrod DeThierry 5 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 16 (Troy Smith, Nick Munro, Troy Creighton tries; Corey Strickland, Sean Doherty goals).
Under-18s: TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 38 (Blake Crannage, Michael Keating, Nick Shepherdson, Dane Evans, Tom Kingston, David Baumann, Keil Jaeger tries; Dane Evans 5 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 4 (Steve Adams try).