Minor premiers Burleigh have booked their place in the 2015 Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup grand final thanks to a 38-20 win over the Tugun Seahawks at Pizzey Park.
The Bears, who finished seven points clear on top of the ladder at the end of the regular season, weren’t at their best, but did enough to ensure they will be there on grand final day on September 13.
“If you’re looking at it from a desire point of view, I’m super happy with the commitment they showed today particularly in defence,” Bears coach Matt Foster said.
“As far as performance goes, we let the pace of the game impact us a little bit and it wasn’t a great performance from us, but the boys showed exactly how much they want this and that’s the most pleasing thing. The attitude and desire from every single player out there is what pleased me the most.
“We need to fine tune a few areas and everybody says in finals it’s not about performance, it’s about the result; I’m still chasing performance because with performance comes results. We’ll be working super hard these next two weeks to make sure we’re ready for the grand final.”
The game was an arm wrestle early before opening up in the second half.
Siuatonga Likiliki and Jamie Anderson both muscled their way to first half tries to give Burleigh a solid 12-0 lead, only for Tugun to cross through Tim Matenga on the stroke of halftime.
Tugun started the second half on fire and were rewarded with a try to Joel Sykes which brought the margin back to just four.
Suddenly the Seahawks looked likely, but Burleigh snuffed out the comeback with three quick tries.
In the 51st and 54th minutes the Seahawks put down two Burleigh bombs that led directly to tries to Connor Toia and Scott Purvis respectively, while a barnstorming Francis Veukiso try in the 57th minute saw the lead jump to 30-8.
The Seahawks refused to go away with tries to Dan Kelly and a second for Joel Sykes cutting the margin back to ten, but the damage was done and the Bears celebrated their grand final qualification with a long range try to Connor Toia in the dying minutes.
Coach Foster praised the efforts of Siuatonga Likiliki, Anthony Gray and Jamie Anderson for their work in the middle of the field as well as best on ground prop Shaun Maloney.
Maloney came off the bench to play big minutes and have a huge physical impact in both attack and defence.
“Shaun took it on his shoulders to come off the bench and just rip in,” Foster said.
“You don’t need many fingers to count how many collisions he lost today which is exactly what you want from a prop. They need to set foundations and teams win games off that, so he’s massively important for us.”
Burleigh will sit out next weekend as Tugun return home to take on Tweed Heads in the preliminary final. Tweed qualified by defeating Runaway Bay 46-16 in the elimination final on Saturday evening.
BURLEIGH BEARS 38 (Connor Toia 2, Siuatonga Likiliki, Jamie Anderson, Scott Purvis, Francis Veukiso tries Khan Ahwang 7 goals) def TUGUN SEAHAWKS 20 (Joel Sykes 2, Tim Matenga, Dan Kelly tries Chris Thomas, Sam Harrold goals)