Ben Liyou and Jake Martin were members of the Tweed Seagulls team that claimed the National Under 18 Championship match with a 48-14 win against the Illawarra Steelers.
Ben Liyou and Jake Martin were members of the Tweed Seagulls team that claimed the National Under 18 Championship match with a 48-14 win against the Illawarra Steelers. Contributed

Liyou, Martin help Tweed Seagulls to National Championship

RUGBY LEAGUE: Grafton Ghosts rugby league juniors Ben Liyou and Jake Martin have claimed the title of national champions after Tweed Seagulls stormed home with a 48-14 win over Illawarra Steelers in the National Under 18 Championship on the weekend.

After taking out the Mal Meninga Cup a weekend ago, the Tweed Seagulls hardly put a foot wrong through the entire 70-minute performance against the NSW SG Ball winners.

While the scoreline blew out late in the match with some flashy displays across both halves, the Seagulls put on a gritty showing in the first half where they earned possession and forced the Steelers into errors and frustration.

Starting the match at prop, Liyou said the score didn't reflect the intensity of the forwards' battle that took place in Dolphin Stadium.

"It was a tough first half, a really good competition and then we got a few quick tries in the second half and ran away with it,” he said.

"It was definitely a very physical contest, I don't think I had ever been so sore in my life after a game.”

National Under 18 Champions Tweed Seagulls celebrate after their 48-14 win over the Illawarra Steelers.
CHAMPIONS: National Under-18 champions Tweed Seagulls celebrate after their 48-14 win over the Illawarra Steelers. BELOW: Ben Liyou and Jake Martin after the win. Contributed

The Seagulls enjoyed a blistering finish to their Mal Meninga Cup competition, and Liyou said they carried that form into the National Championship game.

"The team really gelled, I couldn't pick a stand-out because everyone had the game of their lives, it all just came together and I don't think anyone saw that scoreline coming,” he said.

"It's pretty special knowing you're the best team in Australia, I don't think that's sunk in yet, it's a strange feeling to be honest.”

After the match, coach Tim Maccan praised his side's performance.

"It was fantastic, definitely their best win of the season - they stuck to the game plan for the whole game and got the job done,” Maccan said.

"Our starting front rowers Ben Liyou and Solomon Torrens, kids that some people haven't heard of, they are great kids and showed that they are quality front rowers.”