The Burleigh Bears Women’s team have claimed the 2015 South East Queensland Division 1 premiership with a 24-10 win in Saturday’s grand final.
It was a stunning defensive display by the Bears against the Southern Suburbs Magpies, who have dominated the competition for over half a decade.
They took a 12-0 lead into the halftime and they defended gallantly as the Magpies tried to mount a comeback in the second half.
“It’s just huge for the girls, that team hasn’t been beaten in six years,” Bears coach Tahnee Norris said after the match.
“They’ve set the benchmark for the whole competition for the last five-six years, so we just needed to step up to another level and that’s what they did on Saturday.
“Defensively there was a couple of sets of six in patches, about 20 minutes in each half, that we defended on our line where the girls were just totally solid.”
A big challenge for the Bears on the day was the battle in the middle, as the Magpies boasted a number of Australian representative forwards.
Magpies props Heather Ballinger (who took home the Women’s Representative Player of the Year award at this year’s QRL Awards) and Steph Hancock started for the Jillaroos against New Zealand earlier in the year, while Renae Kunst started in the second row.
Norris said her Bears pack didn’t have the same experience, but were ready for the challenge and stepped up to the mark on the day.
“They stepped up and they were outstanding,” Norris said of her pack.
“A big thing for us was line speed and making sure those girls weren’t making any ground and that’s exactly what our forwards did.
“They continually pushed off the line and took their ground away from them which made such a big difference. They were aggressive as well.”
A prime example of that mentality was Selena Tranter, who was awarded best on ground largely thanks to her defensive output.
Tranter was originally selected to represent Queensland earlier in the year (but unable to play due to injury) and was absolutely vital for the Bears on grand final day.
“She is one of the best defensive players running around,” Norris said.
“She’s come from rugby union and she still has a lot to learn, but defensively she’s got one the best tackling techniques I’ve ever seen. She was very impressive defensively and that was her goal for Saturday.”
On the back of a tremendous performance from the forwards, young halves pairing Zahara Tamara and Paige Rogers produced beyond their years.
Norris dubbed them future representative players and they will be important if the Bears are to go back-to-back in 2016.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work with the young girls in the halves and they really took control,” Norris said.
“Paige Rogers and Zahara Tamaera have just stepped up and they’re only babies. They’re only 18, 19 years of age and they really took it to the next level.
“They’ve grown so much in the last 12 months and they’re just quality players.”
Div 1 - Grand Final
BURLEIGH BEARS 24 (Tarnisha Lyons 2, Karina Brown, Sasha Mahuika tries; Zahara TeMara 4 goals) def SOUTHERN SUBURBS MAGPIES 10 (Casey Karklis, Kelsie Parkin tries; Steph Hancock goal) at Tapout Energy Stadium, Langlands Park, Stones Corner (Halftime: Burleigh 12-0).
1. Karina Brown 2. Tarnisha Lyons 3. Renee Nuku 4. Caitlyn Bantick 5. Simone Panapa 6. Zahara TeMara 7. Paige Rogers 8. Rebekah Shelford 9. Sasha Mahuika 10. Josina Singapu 12. Jasmin Kemp 13. Sharnee Weralubo 14. Amber Nicol 15. Alysha Lee 16. Faythe Fruean 17. Selena Tranter 18. Shelley Fox 19. Constance Samaseia 20. Elizabeth Sue
1. Amy Karklis 2. Marie Dennis 3. Theresa Anderson 19. Lon Tulloch 5. Kelly Hammant 6. Casey Karklis 7. Karyn Murphy 18. Heather Ballinger 9. Sian Rowlands 10. Steph Hancock 11. Ngamoko Hiku 12. Renae Kunst 13. Tarah Westera 14. Kelsie Parkin 15. Liahona Theodore 16. Phoebe Va’afusuaga 17. Tania Osborne 21. Zhane Kameta 20. Tash Taylor
*Stay tuned to QRL.com for the Division 2 match report and photo galleries from the games.