Winger?s try on the bell clips ?Gulls wings
By STEVE SPINKS
A try by centre Niko Vakararawa on the bell stole Marist Brothers a pulsating 16-14 victory over the previously undefeated Tweed Seagulls in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League match of the round at Oakes Oval, Lismore, yesterday.
It unfolded in dramatic fashion with Vakararawa carrying three defenders over the line to score.
He touched down, the crowd erupted, the hooter went ... and the crowd erupted again.
Brothers coach Craig Hodges was delighted with the victory, but he knows a victory in June doesn't make a season.
"To keep a team like that (Tweed) to only 14 points is a really good effort," he said.
"I'm not getting carried away and I'm not going to say we're not going to be inconsistent for the rest of the season, but we are definitely building.
"It's been an exciting year."
Brothers fans are getting used to the sight of Vakararawa snatching victory for their team.
He was instrumental in the Rams 2003 grand final victory over South Grafton, setting up and scoring a number of tries in that memorable encounter.
The Fijian has shifted to the centres this season from the wing and he is starting to prove his worth.
While everyone knows Vakararawa can score a try, the fleet footed centre has worked especially hard on his defence and its starting to show.
With Graham Smallwood particularly strong on the right hand side of the field, Vakararawa has proved the perfect foil on the left.
While the try-scorer often gets the plaudits, there were plenty of others who deserved a mention.
Vakararawa's match-winner was set up by rookie five-eighth Jake Campbell.
Campbell has had the unenviable task of filling the big boots left vacant with the retirement of former National Rugby League pivot and local legend David Krause.
With only seconds remaining, Campbell threw the cut-out pass which put Vakararawa through the gap.
It was a move beyond his half-a-season experience in first grade.
Hooker Scott Gibson played another big game and made plenty of valuable metres out of dummy-half.
Others to shine in a committed Brothers effort included props Simon Andrews and Tim Tredigo and second-rowers Kevin Walker and Luke Scott and fullback Nathan Tolley.
Brothers got just the type of game they wanted against the slick Seagulls outfit.
A dull, wet, cold day kept handling difficult, while it also slowed down the pace of the game.
In other words, the Rams got the young Seagulls into an arm-wrestle.
They pressured them into uncharacteristic mistakes and the Brethren defence was superb.
They were also aided by a 9-4 penalty count.
Brothers led 12-8 at half-time courtesy of tries to wingers Adrian Gooley and Dale Witta.
Seagulls had also scored two unconverted tries, one to fullback Jay McDermott and the other to winger Jeremy Walters.
Seagulls hit the lead at the 52 minute mark with McDermott scoring his second which lock Scott Gray converted to put the visitors in the lead at 14-12.
But Vakararawa's and Campbell's combined brilliance broke the Seagulls undefeated run.
Seagulls were best served by livewire halfback Daniel Evans, winger Justin Carter and second-rower Mykel Hema.