Hat-trick for Wells as Bears strike
The Burleigh Bears survived a late comeback to defeat the Norths Devils 24-22 at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
With players and many spectators dressed in pink for the Bear’s annual Pink Day, both teams delivered a spectacle worthy of the big day.
As they had done against the Northern Pride and Redcliffe Dolphins in their previous outings, the Bears jumped to a half time lead but this time they held on to record a much needed victory.
“We’ve been threatening to do it for the last couple of weeks,” Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan said.
“We had spoken about how in the last couple of weeks we’ve been ahead at half time and then got nailed at the end of the game.
“Today we teetered on the edge a little bit but we found the courage and the defence to hold out and I was really happy.
“We’ve knocked over a top three side and if we can keep building and keep in the right direction we’ll win more games than we’ll lose in the back end of the year.”
The game started evenly with both sides trading tries in the opening stages.
Norths struck first through winger Keiran English in the 5th minute with Burleigh hitting back through skipper Darren Griffiths five minutes later.
The Bears took the lead for the first time when Nafe Selunini made a long break through the middle of the field and found Henare Wells in support for the try.
Norths drew level soon after with Chris Faust scoring off a Darren Nicholls grubber kick, but the Devils struggled to build any pressure on the back of some dreadful handling.
Burleigh punished their mistakes and it was Henare Wells who managed to do the damage.
The fullback scored two times before the break to take his personal tally to three for the day and give Burleigh 12-point lead at half time.
While Burleigh had the momentum at the break, Norths were still close enough to make a challenge and in the second half their handling improved and as a result they were able to build plenty of pressure.
English scored his second try 10 minutes after the break to bring the Devils within a converted try.
The Devils forced dropouts, had repeated sets and threw plenty of attack at the Bears defence.
The desperate Bears kept turning up but they cracked with two minutes to go when Zach Koitka went over out wide.
Darren Nicholls’ conversion attempt would have levelled the scores, but it was waved away and the Bears held on to the win.
In addition to three tries Wells also came up with a try-saving defensive play late in the game which saw him earn XXXX man of the match honours.
“Scoring three tries was wonderful but the one he saved at the end was just an amazing effort,” Lenihan said of his fullback.
“He’s working hard and has done the right thing by us and played well today.”
Lenihan also praised the performance of halfback Ryley Jacks and debutant five-eighth Connor Toia.
Earlier in the day the Bears Colts moved to four points clear at the top of the ladder by defeating Norths 23-12.
BURLEIGH BEARS 24 (Henare Wells 3, Darren Griffiths tries; Khan Ahwang 4 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 22 (Keiran English 2, Chris Faust, Zach Koitka tries; Darren Nicholls 3 goals) at Pizzey Park.
Burleigh Bears: 1. Henare Wells 2. Khan Ahwang 3. Corbin Kiernan 4. Demetri Pelo 5. Zac Mackay 6. Conner Toia 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Mark Ioane 9. Nafe Seluini 10. Matt Bell 11. James Dunley 12. Kyle McConnell 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Matt Beddow 15. Siuatonga Likiliki 16. Chris Kitching 17. Nick Harrold
Norths Devils: 1. Shaun Carney 2. Michael Lucas 3. Kainga Turner 4. Tristan Lumley 5. Keiran English 6. Darren Nicholls 7. Sam Foster 8. Jamie Muller 9. Krys Freeman 10. Jared Blanke 11. Chris Faust 12. Brendon Gibb (c) 13. Brad McKee 20. Francis Molo 16. Troyden Watene 17. Patrick McPherson 18. Zach Koitka