Grafton Juniors help Tweed to Mal Meninga Cup win
RUGBY LEAGUE: In a game full of end-to-end action, the Tweed Seagulls edged out the Wynnum Manly Seagulls 28-24 to see Grafton Ghosts juniors Ben Liyou and Jake Martin claim the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup.
The state champions will now take on SG Ball Cup winners Illawarra Steelers in the National Under-18 final tomorrow at Dolphin Stadium.
Liyou said he was thrilled with the win, considering the Tweed Seagulls were lucky to make the final in the first place.
The Seagulls won their first three games of the competition before they were defeated by the bottom-placed Capras 18-14 in round four and Wynnum Manly in round five.
Liyou said Tweed needed a big win in round six if they were to be any chance of a finals berth and a 72-0 victory over the Cutters was enough for them to book a finals berth on points differential.
"That was our perfect game, we all found our rhythm and after that the momentum flowed right through to the final,” Liyou said.
He said the final was a close game and while Tweed did manage to get out to a 14-point lead early in the second half, Wynnum Manly refused to go away, with a try in the final minute of play giving them a chance of stealing victory.
"It was a bit scary at times but I think our middle forwards handled their middle forwards pretty well,” Liyou said.
Normally a backrower, Liyou started the grand final in the unfamiliar position of prop.
"I'm probably one of the bigger blokes in the team and we needed a bit more size up front but it was a great experience,” he said.
"I just had to focus on slowing down the ruck, which was pretty hard, they had some big boys in their team.”
Looking to their interstate clash with Illawarra this weekend, Liyou said he expected another tough match.
"It'll be a similar game plan to last week, we will stick to our structure and (if we) play like we have been the last three weeks we should be all right,” he said.