Pine Rivers, backing up three days after their heartbreaking loss to Aspley in the Ted Beaumont trophy, came up against the dark horses in the Open 1 North competition Brothers Juniors.
Although it was a hard fought struggle against the impressive Brothers side, the 32-16 win was far from a pretty victory for the Bears but a shot of confidence desperately needed to get them back into the groove.
Brothers were however the more dominant side in the first half coming out showing why they are worthy of third spot on the ladder with some ferocious tackling and some very creative plays. It was The Bears who opened the scoring though through their very skilful halfback Allial Robertson who delivered a sensational cut out pass to the impressive Brett Zgrajewski to score. Robertson added the extras to have the Bears 6-0 up.
However with a very depleted Pine Rivers side, the younger Brothers side were on a mission to upset their hosts and their first try came courtesy of a Christian Kennedy pass who found winger Nathan Crowley lurking out wide to slice his way over in the corner. Sam Turnbull was unable to land the shot at goal with the Bears leading at 6-4.
Six minutes later a confident Brothers side were in again and this time it was Turnbull who grubbered through the ball which was fumbled by Bears fullback Holzapfel and rebounded into Turnbull’s arms who miraculously got out an amazing offload to find winger Shaun Wickham unmarked to score.
With the conversion unsuccessful, Brothers had now hit the lead 8-6. Zgrajewski capped a fine display for the Bears for his next try after a short pass from five-eighth Jack Walters and it was probably the representative second rower’s easiest try of the afternoon strolling in under the posts. With Robertson a whizz with the goal kicking it was the Bears back in front 12-8.
Full credit to the Brothers defence led by outstanding lock Mitch O’Brien and backed up by Matt Crear, Michael Hoffman and hooker Shane Goddard. It was this brutal defence early on that rattled the Bears normally aggressive play, but the Brethren were frustrating the home side to no end with rushing defence and not afraid to move the ball around.
Robertson brought the crowd to life in the bitterly cold conditions when he put up a towering spiral bomb that was dropped by Brothers fullback Jordan Woolcott and bounced into the waiting arms of Bears centre Dylan Hawea to score beside the posts. With the easy conversion done and dusted the Bears had now got out to an 18-8 lead. Just as the Brethren looked like taking it to the Bears another try from Mitch Bertwhistle opened the gap wider to have the Bears leading 22-8 at halftime.
The second half was a totally different Pine Rivers side and busy Bears hooker Derek Wolfenden who was tireless throughout the game was the instigator for the Bears next try when he split the Brothers defence from dummy half, scooted away upfield and found Bertwhistle again to score his second try.
Robertson missed with the conversion but against the odds the Bears had a very commanding lead 26-8. As the game went on, Pine Rivers gained in confidence and their replacement player Chris Frost got in on the action when he was delivered a beautiful pass from Robertson to score. With Robertson adding the extras it was the Bears in full control 32-8.
The Bears did however take the foot of the throttle in the latter stages of the game, but were still being well served in attack and defence by the outstanding Zgrajewski who is head and shoulders a stand out in this competition, hard running fullback Ben Holzapfel and human cannonball Viliami Taumgatua. It was these stand out players who held the Bears together throughout the match, but against adversity with the depletion of players this was a credit to the coach Dylan Kenning.
Brothers in all their gutsy glory would however have the last say on this match with late tries to Tim Obrien and Zach Koitka who were simply devastating out wide with their powerful displays in attack that saw the final score Pine Rivers 32 Brothers 16.