The Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears have won a classic Intrust Super Cup semi-final, 34-32 over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls at BMD Kougari Oval.
In front of a packed house on a perfect Sunday afternoon, the Bears raced to a 22-6 lead and were forced to hold off the Seagulls who came back hard in the second half.
The Bears will now advance to a home preliminary final in two weeks, while Wynnum Manly will host an elimination blockbuster against Redcliffe next week.
Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan was extremely proud post game and praised his side’s ball control throughout a high-scoring game.
“It was one of those games where if you held the ball for big patches it was always going to be hard to hold out the other side,” he said.
“We still completed nine from nine in that second half, there were just big chunks of possession going against us. It was a high-scoring game, which is unusual for a final, so for us to hold on and defend our way through that was pleasing.
“For big parts of the year you play to hopefully stick to a process, but this time of year it’s all about a win or a loss and however we win or lose is the most important part now.
“We’ll have a week off and then have another tough game and then hopefully one more tough game after that, so there is still a long way to go.”
Will Evans, playing his second Intrust Super Cup game, opened the scoring after some excellent lead up from Sami Sauiluma.
In the 11th minute the Bears extended their lead to 10-0 when Dylan Phythian ran the ball on the last tackle. He created some space for Kurtis Rowe who offloaded to Sauiluma to score the afternoon’s second try.
Wynnum hit back in the 16th minute, after Edene Gebbie took advantage of some broken play on the right side of the field, slicing through to score.
The home side were on the attack again four minutes later, but Anthony Don swooped in for an intercept and ran 90 metres to score for the Bears.
The Bears were riding a wave of early momentum and a try for Pat Politoni out of dummy half gave them a handy 16-point lead, before the Seagulls scored an important try right on halftime.
Mitch Cronin produced some lovely sleight of hand out of dummy half and put Max Elliot over, cutting the margin to just ten points at halftime.
The Seagulls came out fired up in the second half allowing plenty of room for Sam Scarlett to start taking control of the contest.
A Jayden Berrell try in the 45th minute was followed up by a try for Pat Templemen, bringing the scores level at 22-22 with 30 minutes left to play.
Burleigh were back in the lead in the 56th minute, when Josh Rogers put Matt Robinson through a hole then backed up to score under the posts.
Gebbie, who was electric throughout the contest, got early ball in the 62nd minute and stood up the Burleigh defence as he crossed for his second try to bring Wynnum within two points.
The crucial play came in the 69th minute, when Jamal Fogarty went to the line on the last tackle.
He turned the ball inside for a charging Api Noema-Matenga who powered his way to the try line giving Burleigh an 8-point lead.
Scarlett would set up a try for Kalolo Saitaua in the 79th minute, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Bears secured a two-point win and a home preliminary final.
Without the likes of Troy Leo, Jack Buchanan, Jacob Hind and Jeff Lynch, the Bears were forced to call on their depth and coach Lenihan said he was proud of the club’s depth and their ability to cover major injuries.
He praised the efforts of Fogarty, Robinson, Sauiluma, Politoni, Luke Page and Oliver Percy and said that he has the confidence that any player that pulls on an Intrust Super Cup jersey for the Bears is ready to do the required job.
“I’m very proud of the whole Burleigh club from our locals right through to the major comps,” he said.
“It’s part of our DNA now that we work really hard on our effort and work really hard on our defence and then everyone knows their job. If you come in, it’s almost like an interchangeable part. Nearly anyone from any grade can come in and we’re able to do that part of the job really well.
Earlier in the day Wynnum defeated Burleigh in a gripping Hastings Deering Colts final, 24-19.