BUNDABERG Bears coach and QRL Central Division Operations Manager Dave Pearce was not disappointed despite his side being thrashed by Toowoomba Clydesdales 38-4 in 47th Battalion A Grade Trophy Carnival final in Gladstone on Sunday.
Pearce said the defending champions played "above expectations" with a youthful side following the loss of seven players due to injuries from the originally named squad.
The Bears won their three Pool games starting off on Saturday with a 30-10 victory over Central Highlands, before backing up later in the afternoon to edge out Rockhampton 26-22, then sealing a final berth with a 20-10 despatch of South West on Sunday morning.
Workaholic Brothers second rower Joel McCrea marked his Bundaberg debut with a double against the Highlanders, before going one better with a hat-trick against Rockhampton, then picking up one four pointer against South West.
Lock Robert O'Donnell, of Isis Devils, was a match winner against South West, also with a double, while prolific scoring centre Mat Templeman, also of Brothers, scored a try in each of their pool games.
But the Clydesdales were simply too good in the decider, with Bundaberg's sole points coming from a try to powerhouse front rower Reece Maughan.
Sean Loxley carved up for Toowoomba, scoring three tries and his combination in the halves with Jason Wilmot, who was named Player of the Tournament, proved too much for the brave Bears to handle.
Pearce praised his players.
"The team that took the field did Bundaberg proud ," Pearce said.
Four Bears were rewarded with selection in the Central Division Crows 2014 Rep representative team, McCrea, multiple Queensland Rangers representatives Templeman and his electric centres partner and another Brothers star Shaun Collins, and crafty Isis Devils five-eighth Nathan Sullivan.
Meanwhile, the Bundaberg women's team was outplayed at the carnival, but they still had five players named for Crows' honours, dual Queensland open representative five-eighth Nicole Curtis, Renay Thomas, Kady Tinker and Tiara Best, all of the all-conquering triple premiership winning Brothers side, and Lilly Riley, of Easts Magpies, who was named as a Shadow player.
The Bundaberg Under-20 men's team finished third, with their Waves Tigers young gun Cody Faulkner taking out the coveted Under 20 Player of the Carnival gong.