The Redcliffe Dolphins have overcome a 16-point deficit to notch a 30-28 win over the Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park.
With 25 minutes left on the clock the Bears led 22-6, but the Dolphins found a way to score four tries in 15 minutes to claim victory.
“They just had a little bit of belief in each other and stuck to what we told them and in the end that paid dividends,” Redcliffe coach Troy Lindsay said of the comeback.
“They worked hard for each other and kept turning up. We made a few crucial errors in that first half. We had to cut out our errors, believe in each other and keep turning up.”
Redcliffe opened the scoring through winger Oliver Regan in the 13th minute, but from there the Bears gained the ascendancy.
A length of the field try to Henare Wells got the Bears on the board while a try to Khan Ahwang shortly after gave them the lead.
A try to Steve Michaels on halftime meant the Bears would lead by 10 coming into the break.
The Dolphins did receive a boost going into halftime though, as Queensland and Australian legend Petero Civoniceva made his return off the bench.
While his game time was somewhat limited, Civoniceva was a presence in the middle of the field with some tough defence and plenty of trademark charges.
“Old Pet was pretty good,” Lindsay said.
“He got us forward and worked hard in the middle. His lungs blew out a little bit, he didn’t play a lot of minutes, but they were quality minutes all of them.”
The Burleigh momentum continued in the second half when Ahwang fended off a couple of defenders before Henare Wells eventually finished the movement with his second try.
At 22-6 the Bears looked like they would go on with the job and put Redcliffe to the sword, but that all changed in the 56th minute when a huge spiral bomb was put down in the lead-up to Tom Geraghty’s try.
After that momentum swung dramatically in favour of the Dolphins, as tries to Zack Strasser, James Ackerman and Sarafu Fatiaki followed to give them an eight-point lead with 10 to go.
The game’s drama didn’t end there though. A try to Siuatonga Likiliki in the 77th minute delivered a grandstand finish and with less than two minutes left on the clock it looked like Burleigh had scored the match-winner.
Zac Mackay was over in the corner but the cut-out pass by Ryley Jacks was ruled forward meaning Redcliffe hung on to win.
Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan was disappointed with the end result but believes his team is moving in the right direction.
“I felt like in the first half we did everything right,” Lenihan said.
“End of the first half I thought we were getting over the top of them. Second half we started well but then we had that one dropped ball and for the next 15 minutes we just couldn’t get the ball back.
“We’ve got to find a consistent 80 minute performance instead of a 60 minute performance.”
Earlier in the day the Bears Colts picked up an 18-16 win to retain top spot on the ladder.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 30 (Oliver Regan, Zach Strasser, James Ackerman, Sarafu Fatiaki, Tom Geraghty tries; Adrian Davis 5 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 28 (Henare Wells 2, Steve Michaels, Khan Ahwang, Siuatonga Likiliki tries; Khan Ahwang 4 goals) at Pizzey Park.
Burleigh Bears: 1. Henare Wells 2. Steve Michaels 18. Khan Ahwang 4. Corbin Kiernan 5. Zac Mackay 6. Matt Beddow 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Chris Kitching 9. Matt Keating 10. Matt Bell 11. James Dunley 12. Kyle McConnell 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Nafe Seluini 15. Siuatonga Likiliki 16. Jesse Malcolm 17. Nick Harrold
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Paul Byrnes 2. Oliver Regan 3. Aaron Whitchurch 4. Stewart Mills 5. Liam Georgetown 6. Zach Strasser 7. Adrian Davis 8. James Ackerman 9. Cameron Cullen 10. Jon Green (C) 11. Sarafu Fatiaki 12. Joe Bradley 13. Tom Geraghty 14. Tom Rowles 15. Petero Civoniceva 16. Martin Cordwell 17. Caleb Hoffman