Seagulls snatch home semi at death
A last-minute Daniel Ogden try has booked the Wynnum Manly Seagulls a home semi-final after they snatched a thrilling 18-14 victory over Easts Tigers in the final round of the Intrust Super Cup.
The clutch win for the Seagulls sees them move above the Tigers into second spot on the ladder, setting up a return bout in Week One of the finals in the Qualifying Semi-Final at Kougari Oval in Wynnum.
The Elimination Semi-Final will see Tweed Heads host Ipswich with the winners to go on and meet minor premiers Northern Pride who get to rest up in Week One of the finals.
Ipswich and Tweed recorded victories against the Redcliffe Dolphins and Mackay Cutters respectively to earn their top-five finish, the Jets' six-point win over Redcliffe denying the PNG Hunters a finals appearance in their maiden Intrust Super Cup season.
Elsewhere Norths Devils thrashed CQ Capras 56-6, Burleigh Bears upset minor premiers Northern Pride 29-28 and Souths Logan Magpies ended the Sunshine Coat Falcons' season of misery with a 26-12 win at Davies Park.
However at Langlands Park, a finals-like atmosphere set the scene for a cracking game of football with plenty of feeling between both sides as the opposing forward packs ripped into each other from the outset.
Trailing 14-12 for the majority of the second half, the Seagulls were handed a late opportunity inside the final two minutes of the game due to a mistake by the Tigers inside their own half.
From the resulting set Wynnum shifted the ball out wide finding Broncos' outside back Jordan Kahu, who rounded two Tigers defenders, dishing a pass off to Ogden who dashed down the touchline to score his second try of the afternoon and snare the 'Gulls a home qualifying semi-final.
It was a lucky escape for the Seagulls who had raced to a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes only to lose their way either side of half-time, letting the Tigers claw their way back into the contest with tries in the 39th, 51st and 54th minute.
Despite having a mixed afternoon including two errors, with one leading to Easts' third try, Kahu saved his best work until the last minute after producing a combination of strength, speed, footwork and vision to set Ogden up in the corner.
Kahu, who has five tries from 12 NRL games, begun the game on the wing but switched places with fullback Ogden after the two-try hero went down clutching at his shoulder midway through the second half.
The forced change saw the 23-year-old shift to his preferred position at fullback allowing Kahu more freedom to target the tiring Tigers defence as the game entered the latter stages.
"It was good to go back to [fullback] finally – that's where I like play," Kahu told NRL.com.
"Credit to the boys though for hanging in there and not giving up right until the end, we started off well but we just slipped off a bit in the middle of each half. Our defence was sloppy and we let them out of our end to easily.
"We were just lucky we got away with the win when we were given the chance down the other end."
Wynnum were first to cross after seven minutes when the ball spread out to the left eventually finding Odgen who sliced through the defensive line to hand the visitors a 6-0 lead.
Back-to-back sets to the Seagulls allowed back-rower Chris McLean to crash over the line doubling Wynnum's lead to 12-0 in the 22nd minute.
The Seagulls looked good value for their lead but were unable to cross for a third try before half-time allowing the Tigers to strike seconds before the break to take the score to 12-4.
Easts scored again in the 51st minute after Kahu couldn’t hold onto a Jacob Fauid cross-field kick with Hymel Hunt scooping up the crumbs to score the Tigers second.
Three minutes later the Tigers hit the lead for the first time in the match when hooker Tommy Butterfield weaved his way through the Wynnum defence after a cleaver dart from dummy-half. Fauid nailed the conversion from a challenging angle give the Tigers a 14-12 lead to ruffle the Seagulls' feathers.
Either side failed to land a killer blow inside the final 15 minutes with errors and ill-discipline creeping into the game. Just as it appeared the Tigers would hold on to snare a home final, a kick out on the full and a dropped ball in consecutive sets allowed the Seagulls the opportunity to strike with Kahu combing with Odgen for the match-winning try.
Despite receiving a well-timed bye in Round 25 and earning a home semi-final in the process, the Seagulls are expecting another gruelling contest on their home turf come Sunday afternoon according to Kahu.
"That [game] was a good certain-raiser for next week, but I guess in semi-finals you never know, it's going to be a tough game wherever you play," he said,
"We beat them on their home ground today and they could do the same to us. We're just going to have to recover well and turn up next week and hopefully get a win."
Wynnum Manly Seagulls 18 (Daniel Ogden 2, Chris McLean tries; Matt Seamark 3 goals) def. Easts Tigers 14 (Richie Kennar, Hymel Hunt, Tom Butterfield tries; Jacob Fauid 1 goal) at Langlands Park, East Brisbane. Half-time: Seagulls 12-4.
For the final ladder and detais of Week One of the finals click here.