By TONY WHITE
PREMIERSHIP pacesetter Tweed Heads Seagulls maintained its unbeaten record in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition with victory in all three grades against Lower Clarence at Maclean Showground yesterday.
"Our main goal is to win the club championship, so far so good," first grade coach Troy McCarthy said. "As a club we're looking strong.
"We've got a side in the Queensland Cup as well and all the players know they're a chance of making that side if they perform."
The first grade outfit beat the Magpies 34-18 after setting up the win leading 28-12 at half-time.
The Seagulls reserves swamped Lower Clarence 84-12, five-eighth Jarrod De Theirry scoring 34 points, and the Under-18s got out of jail to win 20-18 after the gallant Magpies led until the final minutes.
Although beaten, Magpies first grade captain coach Jason Hebbard said his team' second-half performance, when they held the Seagulls to 6-all, was a pleasing aspect to come from from the loss.
Hebbard was forced off late in the first half with a recurrence of shoulder ligament damage caused at training on Tuesday night and young winger Mitch West again broke his foot and will be out for several weeks.
"They (Seagulls) are a quality side. They got us in the first half," he said. "All credit to them.
"But I was proud of my boys in the second half."
Defence has been the key to the Seagulls unbeaten run McCarthy said.
Indeed, the Seagulls lateral and front-on defence was stern enough to close gaps quickly and shut down the Magpies' opportunities.
"We move as quickly laterally as going forward. Our defence tends to tire other teams attack," he said.
"Our defensive structure has been our key. That shone again today although I was a little disappointed with our lack of intensity in the second half."
The Seagulls play the game at NRL pace, quick play the balls and a lot of second and third phase play and most of the team capable of offloads.
In the first half they made minimal mistakes and completed their sets of six, which continually mounted pressure on the Magpies defence.
An intercept try to winger Damien Moar opened the Seagulls scoring then the Magpies bounced back tit for tat with an intercept try to centre Adam Elliott.
Tries to fullback Josh Vaughan, lock Danny Maieroa and winger Justin Carter saw the Seagulls jump to a 28-6 lead before Elliott crossed for his second off a Gavin Galvin chip kick to go to the break 28-12 down.
Galvin was involved again with a pinpoint pass to centre Darren Blackett who dived over and gave the Magpies a sniff at 28-18 five minutes into the second stanza.
Seagulls centre Graeme Jeffries scored seven minutes later with Moar's conversion the final score.
Best for Seagulls were hooker Andrew Cross, props Luke Kelly and Matt Briggs and halfback and captain Daniel Evans.
Luke Mapperson had an outstanding game for the Magpies, Terry Power was a tower of strength, Aaron Murray impressed at fullback and half Jason Wilkinson sparked much of the Magpies attack.