A late surge wasn’t enough for the Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears who went down 20-14 at the hands of Sunshine Coast at Pizzey Park.
In a brutal display of finals standard rugby league, the runaway competition leaders held off a spirited Bears who lost three players to serious injuries during the course of play.
Tyronne Roberts-Davis scored twice – including a length of the field intercept – and the Bears lifted in the face of adversity as Jack Buchanan, Jeff Lynch and Troy Leo all went down hurt and did not return to the action.
It was a game that went down to the wire and despite coming up short, Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan had nothing but pride in his team’s performance.
“The outcome today wasn’t what we wanted, but I couldn’t be prouder as a coach of this group of players and I think the supporters and fans of the Burleigh Bears wouldn’t be upset with how we played today either,” he said.
“With two of the injuries being middles it put a lot of pressure on the rest of our forwards to compete well and I was so happy with what they did against the team that they played.”
“We talked about physically representing ourselves well today. It’s one thing to say you’re a certain type of player or play a certain type of way, but the way we physically hung in there and did things tough and had consistency in our effort was pleasing.”
Sunshine Coast got on the board first when a deflected kick in the 11th minute was swooped upon by Nathan Saumalu who drew the fullback and offloaded to Siti Moceidreke for the opening try.
Another loose ball led to Moceidreke’s second in the 17th minute, as he reeled in a grubber kick and fought his way to the try line for a 12-0 lead.
Burleigh got their first points in the 33rd minute when a Jamal Fogarty bomb was left to bounce. Conner Toia was on the spot and fired the ball out to his left, with Troy Leo racing away to score in the corner, cutting the margin to eight points at the break.
The Falcons struck immediately after halftime by recovering the ball from the kick-off. Lynch was injured during this set and after a lengthy delay the visitors went to the left through Nicho Hynes. His short ball found Joe Stimson who strolled over and extended the lead.
A pivotal moment for the Bears came in the 47th minute, when Hynes again went left looking to catch the Bears short. This time the ball was intercepted by Roberts-Davis, who went the length of the field to score and get Burleigh back in the contest.
With a vocal home crowd behind them, the Bears began to lift and peppered the Falcons line, before an injury to Leo and a disallowed try for Dylan Phythian halted their momentum.
The Falcons seized their opportunity and a perfectly weighted grubber from Murphy led to a Chris Lewis try in the 64th minute.
Roberts-Davis scored his double in the 68th minute when he was the beneficiary of a Fogarty grubber kick, but the Bears ran out of time as the Falcons closed out another win.
The Bears hit the road next week, travelling to Rockhampton to take on the Capras while the Sunshine Coast will finish their regular season at home against the Ipswich Jets.