The Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears will get a semi-finals tune up against competition leading Sunshine Coast Falcons this Sunday afternoon at Pizzey Park.
Thanks to their win over Northern Pride last weekend the Bears are guaranteed to finish inside the top four and this weekend’s clash against the Falcons will be the perfect preparation two weeks out from the finals.
The Falcons are six points clear at the top of the ladder and have already wrapped up the minor premiership after a stellar regular season.
They defeated the Bears 32-16 when the sides met in Round 12 and have won 20 of their 21 games in 2019.
Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan was full of respect for what his opposition have achieved so far this season but was also mindful of unpredictability the upcoming finals campaign.
“They’re the competition favourites and it’s pretty much their competition to lose – everyone has basically already given them the Cup,” he said. “And they’ve certainly done enough throughout the season for people to think that way, too.
“We play them this week and whatever happens, happens. We’ll have one more game after that and then it’s finals and a whole new competition starts up.”
After losses in Rounds 18 & 19 the Bears have returned to winning form with consecutive wins over PNG and the Pride.
Last week Pizzey Park welcomed back former Bears player of the year Anthony Don, who slipped straight back into the fold with three tries and 192 running metres in a standout performance.
The Don, who became the Gold Coast Titans’ greatest try-scorer earlier this year, has now scored five tries in two appearances for the Bears in 2019. He has been named to make his third appearance in an unchanged side this Sunday.
Blake Leary will again start in the back row after clocking 80 minutes, scoring a try and running for 127 metres last week in his second Intrust Super Cup game of the year.
Conner Toia has also been named at five-eighth after playing his first Cup game for Burleigh in four years against the Pride.
A win over the Falcons would not only be a huge statement two weeks out from the finals but depending on other results it could also move the Bears into second place on the ladder.
Kick-off is at 1.10pm this Sunday afternoon from Pizzey Park. The game will be broadcast live on Nine Gem.
By Kevin Braysher
Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears v Sunshine Coast Falcons – Sunday August 25 at Pizzey Park, 1.10pm
1 Dylan Phythian 2 Troy Leo 3 Sami Sauiluma 4 Josh Berkers 5 Anthony Don 6 Conner Toia 7 Jamal Fogarty 8 Luke Page (c) 9 Pat Politoni 10 Jack Buchanan 11 Hayden Schwass 12 Blake Leary 13 Sam Coster 14 Jeff Lynch 15 Matt Robinson 16 Oliver Percy 17 Tanah Boyd
Coach: Jimmy Lenihan