Four game ending injuries and an empty bench didn’t stop the UAA Burleigh Bears from reclaiming the Kokoda Cup in a thrilling 25 – 18 Anzac Day victory against the Papa New Guinea Hunters.
Winning three from their last four games the Hunters were coming into the contest full of confidence and momentum, but the battered Bears hung on by their claws in what could be a ‘turning point’ to their slow start season.
“Considering the circumstances in today’s game we really showed what we are capable of doing on the field,” Bears skipper Luke Page said.
“Everyone played there own part and it’s good to see some reward from our hard work.”
Dropping back from the Titans and starting off the bench, the Bears injuries woes worked in favour of Beau Fermor, who scored a hat-trick.
“Obviously when I come back from the Titans I’m here as a Burleigh Bear so it’s important that I play well for the Bears,” he said.
Named as the Titans 18th man in their opening rounds, Fermor was pleased to churn out a consistent game of rugby league with the Bears.
“They (Bears) are so welcoming, you don’t feel like an outsider, which makes my job on the field a lot easier.”
It was Fermor who started the home sides scoring streak, making his way over the line for his first of three in the early minutes of the game.
It wasn’t long before Bears captain Luke Page followed, his impressive performance earned him player of the match.
“That is just a bonus for me, the hard work I put in today is all for the boys,” Page said.
Consecutive injuries to Cory Dennis, Jonus Pearson, Jacob Hind and Jack Stockwell quickly cleared the Bears bench, giving PNG the momentum to put their first points on the board minutes before half time.
The Hunters returned to the second half firing, winger Norman Brown crashing through the Bears poor defence line.
An impressive line break saw Beau Fermor secure his second, minutes before winger Greg Marzhew made it back-to-back tries for the home side.
The Hunters quickly responded and matched the Bears, Brandon Numa and Terry Wapi scoring tries of their own.
It was anyones game in the final 10 minutes of play, but Beau Fermor sealed the deal for the Bears, crossing over for his third.
“He was incredible for us, I’m very happy with his performance,” Bears coach Rick Stone said.
Players will enjoy a week off before the Bears take on the Devils in Round 6, while the Hunters line up against the Brisbane Tigers.