The I Love Coffee Burleigh Bears came-from-behind to snatch a dramatic 18-16 win over the Sunshine Coast Falcons at Sullivan Oval yesterday afternoon.
With just three minutes left on the clock and trailing by four points, XXXX man of the match Ryley Jacks put up a cross-field bomb which rebounded off the upright and came down in the hands of Chad Redman for the match-winning try.
It was the culmination of a rollercoaster afternoon of football in Stanthorpe in which the Bears trailed 10-0 at halftime.
Sunshine Coast had over 60% of possession in the opening stanza and were in firm control of the game, but Bears coach Jim Lenihan said his men did well not to trail by more at the break.
“We found a way to win,” he said. “We’ve found ways to lose games this year, but this week we had to try right until the very end and found a way to win.
“I thought we did a great job to hang in there during the first half, all we needed to do was get a fair share of the ball in the second half and we could come back.
“Whether it was a bit of luck off the post or not I thought we earned the right to win the game in the second half.”
It was Hayden Schwass who got the Burleigh fight-back started when he crossed shortly after the break.
The Bears continued to knock on the door and eventually Ayden Lee burrowed over from close range to give Burleigh the lead with less than 15 minutes left to play.
The Falcons bounced back soon after and scored out of dummy half to regain the lead, but the Bears dug deep and found a stroke of good fortune to produce the winning play at the death.
It was a hard-fought victory for the Bears who lost three key players along the way and ran out of interchanges with 15 minutes left to play.
Josh Ailaomai (jaw), Nafe Seluini (quad) and Louis Fanene (shoulder) all failed to finish the game leaving the Bears with just one fit player on the bench when the final siren rang.
Lenihan praised his men’s effort and their ability to fight until the final minute.
“Our ability to fight through right until the end of the game was the most pleasing thing,” he said.
“There’s been times when I’ve been a bit scathing of our efforts in the second half, but certainly today we managed to hang in tough and then produce a good result.”
Burleigh has made a conscious effort to introduce young talent to the top grade in recent weeks and that trend continued on Sunday in the form of Corbin Kiernan, Tyler Sparke and brothers Daniel and Hayden Schwass who were all late inclusions in the side.
“Their optimism and energy has been a bit contagious for us of late,” Lenihan said of the new blood.
“We may not have gotten the best results over the last four or five weeks, but blooding these young blokes this year has been good for us and holds us in good stead for next year.
“I thought the Schwass boys went well and I thought Tyler Sparkes played well today. He came on in the second half and gave us that little bit of aggression and a bit of effort which is what we really needed.”
Lenihan also noted the work of the club in the days leading up to the game. The Bears arrived in Stanthorpe on Friday and spent the weekend engaging with the local community.
As a result, the Bears received healthy support from the locals on the day and the club got the most out of the Country Week experience.
BURLEIGH BEARS 18 (Chad Redman, Hayden Schwass, Ayden Lee tries; Kevin Gordon 3 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 16 (Rowan Klein, David Oakes, Billy Brittain tries; David Oakes, Ryan Hansen goals) at Sullivan Oval, Stanthorpe.
Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Sam Wright 2. Rowan Klein 3. Young Tonumaipea 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Travis Robinson 6. Ben Hampton 7. David Oakes 17. Jordan McLean 9. Billy Brittain 10. Ryan Hansen 11. Paul Ivan 12. Jaz Nahu-Main 13. Tom Murphy (c) 15. Johnny Vuetibau 16. Mboya Adams 19. Jye Ballinger 20. Jon Platt
Burleigh Bears: 1. Talor Walters 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Jamie Dowling 4. Connor Broadhurst 5. Corbin Kiernan (for Dimitri Pelo) 6. Daniel Schwass 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Nathaniel Peteru 9. Chad Redman 10. Pele Peletelese 11. Hayden Schwass 12. Ayden Lee 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Nafe Seluini 15. Louie Fanene 16. Tyler Sparkes 17. Josh Ailaomai