Clancy Nugent, Tweed Seagulls media
An injury depleted Gold Coast Airport Seagulls women’s side fought hard in their 32-0 loss against competition powerhouse Souths Logan Magpies in the opening game of the season at Tugun RLFC.
Down star playmaker and Australian Nines representative Tarryn Aiken, the Seagulls struggled to contain a dominant Magpies forward pack – led by Jillaroos legend Steph Hancock (pictured below)- that not only set a platform for an elusive backline but picked up three tries scored through the middle third of the field.
MAIN PICTURE: Queensland Origin rep Jessika Elliston on the charge for the Seagulls. Photo: Jason O’Brien, QRL
Despite a strong southerly at their back in the first half, the Seagulls failed to maintain any territory, putting themselves in the difficult position of having to chase down a 14-point deficit with all the conditions against them.
An early second-half sin-binning to Magpies back-rower Tyesha Mikaio gave the Seagulls a 10-minute window of dominance. However, they couldn’t capitalise on what was a must score period of the game. While the Gulls remained in the fight, unforced errors continued in the second half as Souths Logan dominated through their middle forwards.
Consistent points by the Magpies were built on relentless field position and pressure which resulted in six tries dispersed across the 60 minutes. Souths Logan five-eighth Meg Ward also added four conversions to complete a 32-0 victory away from home.
The Seagulls spine, led by hooker Abbie Beecher, showed glimpses of their potential as they continue to improve their chemistry without Aiken.
This tough loss to start the season did not come without some positives, however, as the small yet mobile side develop their game style and improved their combinations.
Coach Mike Castle praised his side for consistently showing up in defence, acknowledging that they gave too much ball to an extremely athletic opposition.
“Until they got fatigued, their defence was outstanding. They got numbers in and tried hard for each other,” said Castle.
“We’ve got plenty of young girls who went well; they tried their heart out. It was just the mistakes [that was their undoing]. We tried to force our hand a little bit and, against a big team, you can’t give them the ball.
“If you’re defending more sets than them you’re always going to struggle towards the end of the game.”
The team has struggled to train consistently as rain has hindered their preparations due to field closures. Coach Castle remains positive, suggesting that the unforced errors that kept them out of the game can be quickly addressed.
The Seagulls depth will be improved over the coming weeks as Jillaroos squad member Kaitlyn Phillips (Mounties) and rugby union international Gabby Senft (Queensland Reds) join the side. And Jillaroos stalwart of a decade, Heather Ballinger, will postpone retirement and step out in some games for the young Seagulls, adding vital experience in the middle.
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 32 (S Yvonne De La Cruz, E Veivers, M Ward, E Albert, A Kuk, F Faulato Seu thries; M Ward 4 goals) def. TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 0 at Tugun RLFC Grounds.