'Gulls dig deep but fall short in season opener
RUGBY LEAGUE: A gallant and gritty performance by the Tannum Sands Seagulls wasn't enough to secure victory over the Emu Park Emu's in their round-one A-grade clash at Dennis Park at the weekend.
The Seagulls had their backs against the wall before kick-off, with five of their under-20s players required to back up for the main game after playing in the curtain raiser only minutes earlier.
To make matters worse, Tannum lost influential hooker Jackson Ziebell to a broken collar bone in the ninth minute, as Emu Park ran in eight tries to three in their 42-14 victory.
The 'Gulls opened the scoring after seven minutes through centre Ruan Reyneke, who lumbered over from close range, however that triggered a skilful and athletic Emu Park side who went on to score five tries before half-time.
A further two tries after the break stretched Emu Park's lead out to 34 points, but Tannum soon replied via a Jack Cameron double, who crossed the chalk in the 52nd and 64th minute.
Tempers frayed throughout the contest with several scuffles taking place, with the referee eventually losing patience and sending Tannum prop Luke Arlt and Emu Park's Barratha McClean to the sin-bin with 12 minutes remaining.
Seagulls captain/coach Kevin Bartley was pleased with the effort of his undermanned Seagulls, who fielded a side made up entirely of local players.
"We used five under-20s players and four from reserve grade, so to not get blown out by 50 points I'm really happy with the boys," Bartley said.
"Especially those players who played the whole 80 minutes... it was a tough game. We're trying to rebuild a whole team and it isn't easy to do. Everyone on that field for Tannum were all local boys from Gladstone with no FIFO players."
Bartley said Ziebell's shoulder injury was a big blow for the side, with the hooker facing at least six weeks on the sideline.
"We'll just regroup this week," Bartley added.
"We've been doing really well at training but when it came to the game we were a bit sloppy."
In other games Biloela defeated Gladstone Valleys and Gladstone Brothers downed Woorabinda.
Results and scores were not available at time of publication.