Seagulls slip out of finals
TACKLE after tackle, all day long, the Seagulls kept fighting, hitting the contest with every ounce of energy they had, even when all hope looked lost.
There were few signs of despair until it was evident they were outmatched.
They kept taking their chances, kept punching through the line, kept rolling the dice, only not nearly as well.
Hervey Bay's campaign ended on Saturday with a 38-20 loss to Eastern Suburbs at Salter Oval in a high octane semi-final that was defined by an early onslaught by the Magpies.
The Seagulls completed just one set in the opening 15 minutes as Magpies crossed the try line three times to lead 16-0.
This wasn't any quick start, this was an ambush - and the Seagulls were simply blindsided.
"They just came out and beat us to the start," Seagulls playing co-coach Mitch Yarrow said after the game.
"One team is always going to get the start and one team is going to start slow and unfortunately that team was us.
"But the way the boys handled themselves and to come within six after coming back against a team like Easts with their attacking power was a good effort.
"They really dug deep."
After falling behind 22-4 at half-time, the Seagulls, led by their fired-up forward pack, stormed back into the contest, scoring three of the next four tries to trail by a converted try with 12 minutes remaining.
Seagulls halfback Sam Burns scored a double in his last game in red and green before linking with NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs.
It took some individual brilliance from Magpies five-eighth Matthew Tanner to finally enforce defeat upon the gutsy Seagulls and deny them an opportunity to shoot for a third straight Bundaberg Rugby League grand final.
The Seagulls' season didn't end the way they hoped for, but when they reflect on everything they've achieved and where they were when they were languishing at the bottom of the table after 10 rounds, they'll come to realise, if they haven't already, that this season was a significant step forward.
With Hervey Bay's stable of young and still improving talent, they have every reason to believe they could once again be title contenders next season.
"I couldn't be happier with them," Yarrow said.
"Having only one bloke over the age of 22 playing in an A-grade comp, it is hard.
"But as long as I believed, they believed, and they really stepped up and proved everyone wrong.
"If these boys can stay together and don't have to move away for work and we can keep the core of the team together, I think teams know we'll be coming the next few years."