Seagulls soar over Magpies
HERVEY Bay prop Brett Bunker gets taken down by Easts player Matthew Tanner in the preliminary final at Salter Oval.
The Seagulls posted their third victory by six points or less over the Magpies this season, winning the bruising Bundaberg Rugby League preliminary final 26-22 at Salter Oval on Saturday.
The win means the Seagulls will get a chance to avenge last year's grand final loss to Brothers.
Peter Regan's men did it in true Seagulls fashion against the Magpies, exemplifying the defensive qualities needed to overcome their injuries and having 12 men on the field for the majority of the second half.
However, the fitness of skipper Mitch Yarrow will be a major concern during grand final week after he re-injured his right shoulder while making a tackle early in the first half.
"I'm not sure if I'll play just yet," said Yarrow, who underwent surgery on his shoulder after dislocating it twice when he was 17.
"We'll wait right up until the game before we make a decision."
The Seagulls led 8-0 at half-time, but when Yarrow was ejected from the game early in the second half for dissent, the Magpies looked certain to run over the top of their rivals.
But through stiff, gutsy defence and neat tries by under-18 players Tom Monley, Tyson Woodman and Daniel Goodwin, the Seagulls were able to hold on.
"It was a really hard, physical game and the boys really had to dig deep especially in the last part of second half with only 12 players," Yarrow said.
"It was probably the toughest game we've played this year."
It was a courageous performance from the Seagulls, and regardless if Yarrow is sidelined by the shoulder injury, Hervey Bay will be buoyed by the return of Clancy Fallon, Adam Roderick and Clinton Horne next week.
Given how poorly the Seagulls have played against Brothers this year - four losses by an average of 48 points - Hervey Bay will undoubtedly start underdogs.
However, Yarrow believed the grand final wasn't a foregone conclusion.
"I think if we start well, we're certainly in with a chance," he said.
Hervey Bay Seagulls 26 (Terry Horne, Tom Monley, Brendan Braam, Tyson Woodman, Daniel Goodwin tries; Terry Horne 3 goals) def Easts 22 (Matthew Tanner 2, Robert Hughes, Peni Vesikula tries; Robert Hughes 3 goals)
Wallaroos 50 (Dalton Harry, David Ball 3, Alex Beaty 2, Mark Berkery tries; Dalton Harry 6, Terry Wex goals) def Hervey Bay Seagulls 26 (Gry Togo 2, Ashley O'Donnell, Joel Denduck, Ronald Fisher; Joel Schiemer 6 goals)