Category: WMS News

Rivals Seagulls and Dolphins to dig deep to stay in the race

By Jorja Brinums (QRL Media)

Long-time rivals Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Redcliffe Dolphins will fight to remain in the race to the Intrust Super Cup grand final on Sunday.

Wynnum finished third but lost to Burleigh Bears by only two points during the first week of finals and must step up to keep in the running.

The Dolphins finished sixth on the ladder but beat Tweed Seagulls last week, thanks to a Tyson Gamble field goal in the dying moments of the game, to earn their spot in the clash.

The two sides have faced off twice this season; Wynnum won the first clash 18-10 and Dolphins won the second 32-20.

Wynnum CEO Hanan Laban said for Wynnum, it was “the most important game for the club in almost five years and our entire community is buzzing”.

“A ‘do or die’ elimination final just takes one of the biggest and oldest rivalries in rugby league to another level,” Laban said.

“There have been many epic matches between us and I have no doubt that the Gulls will be up for this one  – the Chook Pen will be rocking!”

Wynnum skipper Mitch Cronin, who is a gun, said everyone was excited for Sunday’s game.

“It’s two of the biggest rivals in Intrust Super Cup going head-to-head, so there should be a big crowd and entertaining game,” Cronin said.

“Last week we started too slow and let the game get away from us, so we’ll be looking to fix that and make sure we start well.

“We still have the belief that we can go all the way… we just need to get ourselves right and make sure we’re at our best starting this Sunday.”

Dolphins football operations general manager Grant Cleal said the game at BMD Kougari Oval, in front of what is sure to be a boisterous Chook Pen, was sure to be a cracker.

“(The rivalry) is something that’s always there without talking about it,” Cleal said.

“The big overriding factor this week for both sides is the fact it could be the last game of the year and no one wants that.”

Redcliffe, the reigning premiers, experienced a tough start to the season, winning only three of their first 10 games. But Gamble re-joined the club before June 30 and helped turn their season around.

“Tyson Gamble has been a really big inclusion for us,” Cleal said.

“Tyson was a local junior here – he came through our development programs, so he wasn’t a stranger to the club, and that stigma of the other players thinking ‘who is this bloke coming in before June 30?’ – he didn’t have that. He was well known around the place before he came back.

“He’s added a lot of confidence to our squad and a lot of physical attributes go along with him as well – he’s got a really good kicking game and he’s a good organiser on the field as well. He’s been the main reason for our turn around.

“You’ve got to hand it to the rest of the players as well after the start they had. And the coaching staff, to keep working hard.”

Cleal said the team would dig deep for fan favourite and all-round nice guy Aaron Whitchurch, who will retire from the game at the end of this season.

“He’s the ultimate professional. He’s been studying a mathematics degree since he left school and he’s got two young daughters – a great little family,” Cleal said.

“In the time it takes to compete in this competition, I can’t imagine how he’s done it. The work load that has been involved for him over the last four of five years in particular, since he’s been doing uni – I can’t believe he’s still doing it.

“He finishes university at the end of this year, so he’s got to go and find a job. Then the workload goes up again for him, so something had to give at some point and it’s footy. That’s how it should be. He’s got to look after his family and his career. It’s a shame. He’s a big loss.

Cleal said he had no doubt Wynnum would also come out firing.

“We’re all in it to win it. Someone will miss out this weekend and it’ll be disappointing for that team. If that’s us, we’ll be heartbroken, so we want to make sure we do as much as we can to make sure we’re not heartbroken and we’re going on,” Cleal said.

“All the teams and all the clubs in our competition work really hard.

“Aaron Whitchurch is a really small cross section of the type of person that plays our game at this level. All working full time, all got families, and to some degree they’re probably working harder than NRL players. They’ve got more to juggle.

“This time of year is a really good reward for those guys. It’ll be a huge reward for a couple of teams to get to grand final day and we’re hoping we’re one of them.”

Two of the best halfbacks face off in finals clash

By Kevin Braysher & Jorja Brinums (QRL Media)

The clash between Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Burleigh Bears Sunday is guaranteed to be a corker.

The two sides have been extremely impressive during the Intrust Super Cup season, finishing the regular season second and third on the ladder respectively.

The Bears beat the Seagulls the only time the two sides played this year, in Round 6, but will have their work cut out to do it again with the Seagulls earning the home semi-final at BMD Kougari Oval.

The Seagulls have have only lost one game at home this season, and that was to minor premiers Sunshine Coast Falcons.

One of the most exciting things about the game Sunday will be the match up between two of the best halfbacks in the game in Seagulls and XXXX Queensland Residents star Sam Scarlett and Bears gun Jamal Fogarty.

Seagulls half Sam Scarlett has been a major part of the Seagulls success in 2019

Bears coach Jim Lenihan said Scarlett was indeed impressive, but he had every confidence in Fogarty, who was “certainly in the top two or three that is vital for us”.

“(Sam) is a player who gets his hands on the ball a lot – he’s a major focus of their attack – and he and Edene Gebbie combine on that right-hand side of the football field a fair bit with their kicking and passing,” Lenihan said.

“He’s a big part of their attack and an indicator of where the ball is going and certainly someone we’ve got to be aware of. Where Sam Scarlett seems to go is often where the ball goes as well.”

But Lenihan said of Fogarty: “Not only is he a good athlete, but he is a good communicator and organiser of the football side with a really good kicking game.”

Jamal Fogarty in action for the Bears

“It’s not only what he does for us with his individual skill, but when he’s in the team he makes everybody else in the team better with his organisation. He’s a player that makes other players better,” Lenihan said.

Lenihan said this year he had worked hard with Fogarty on his defence and with choosing the right types of kicks at the right times.

“I think his defence has really gone to another level this year,” Lenihan said.

“He had some room for improvement in his defence, but this year he’s got the confidence and physically – he’s tackling the big back rowers that run at him all the time and he certainly gets spotted every game. His defence I think has really given him that extra confidence and I think on the back of him kicking well and defending well, the other parts of his game, like his attack and his organisation, have come on really well.

“We’ve looked at getting him to run the ball a bit more this year as well. We’re playing a style that encourages him to run the ball a lot more. He’s a very selfless player and he’s always looking to pass it, but sometimes some of our tries are set up two or three plays before with him making a 15-metre carry and getting a quick play-the-ball and then, off that momentum created, it gives other people in the side the opportunity to take advantage of that.

“He’s been one of those players this year that has been a bit of a standout for us.

“Every side every week is putting a lot of pressure on him and targeting him, but he’s standing up to that and the more he just keeps doing what he started out the year with – defending well and kicking well – I think that’s the foundation for us having a good back end of the year.”

Seagulls skipper Mitch Cronin said both halves were very impressive.

“Both halves have been in really good form for their teams all year so it’s probably the match up of the round,Cronin said.

“I’ve played with Jamal before and like Sam he’s very good organiser and has a strong kicking game. He likes to play on the ball and is their go to for majority of the game, so if we can put some pressure on him it will go a long way to winning.

“Sam has been unreal for us all year, not only his attack but his leadership and for a small bloke his defence has been outstanding.”

Cronin, as the Seagulls prepare to play finals for the first time since 2015, told Wynnum Herald playing at home was a bigger advantage for the Seagulls than any other team in the competition.

“Getting a home semi is massive for us, we’ve only lost one game at home all year and that’s because the fans really get behind us,” Cronin said.

“Finishing second on the ladder has given us a lot of confidence that we can now push for a premiership.”