Wallaroos go close to spoiling Seagulls’ party
THE Hervey Bay Seagulls' 40 year celebrations produced a game for the ages with the Seagulls holding off a fast-finishing Wallaroos to capture an enthralling 40-38 victory at Stafford Park on Sunday.
The Wallaroos, who have won just one match this season, let two try-scoring opportunities go begging in the final five minutes with two passes skidding past the outstretched arms of unmarked winger Daniel Georgetown.
Had one of those passes stuck, the Wallaroos would have been celebrating one of the most miraculous come-from-behind victories in the club's history.
Trailing 40-24 and forced to play the final 16 minutes of the match with one less player on the field after Matt Walker was sent off for being third man in, the Wallaroos' hopes of taking home the Dale Hopgood Shield looked bleak.
But as they had done from the outset, the Wallaroos hung tough and got themselves right back into the contest through tries from Georgetown and Daniel Poppi to reduce the margin to six.
Sensing an upset was on the cards, the Wallaroos forwards, guided around the park by smart hooker Damien Otto, lifted their intensity and on the back of their momentum scored with eight minutes to go through David Ball on the right side.
Dennis Sandow, who kicked brilliantly all game, couldn't level the scores with his shot from out wide slightly missing to the left.
The Wallaroos continued to dominate play, but a lack of composure near the opposition line cost them dearly.
As extraordinary as the comeback was, it was a still a bitter pill to swallow having lost to the Seagulls by two points in Round 4.
The first half featured a master class from Seagulls player-co-coach Tyrone Hopgood.
Inspired by the significance of the game, Hopgood was a class above the opposition setting up tries, kicking goals, throwing cut-out passes, booting 40/20s, catching high bombs and having a double to his name after just 27 minutes.
The Seagulls had been easily the better side in the first half, but only had a six-point lead to show for it at half-time.
The tries continued to flow after the break with Wallaroos centre Sam Hutchins latching onto a well-placed kick from five-eighth Cecil Sullivan to lock the scores at 24-all.
Just as it looked the Wallaroos had all the momentum, Seagulls halfback Sam Burns, who was filling in for injured player-co-coach Mitch Yarrow, put his stamp on the game with back-to-back tries in the space of five minutes.
The Seagulls were full of running and when speedster Billy Stefaniuk was put into a big hole by Hopgood to score, the home side led by 16 points with 22 minutes to play.
From then it was all the Wallaroos as they used plenty of adventurous play to score three tries in 10 minutes, but fell short.
Seagulls 40 (B. Stefaniuk 2, T. Hopgood 2, S. Burns 2, T. Freshwater tries; T. Hopgood 6 goals)
Wallaroos 38 (C. Sullivan 2, J. Crowley, S. Hutchins, D. Georgetown, D. Poppi, D. Ball tries; D. Sandow 5 goals)