The Burleigh Bears got their season away to the perfect start with a 44-22 away win over Wynnum Manly earlier today after battling through a tight first half.
The Bears piled on 34 points in a stunning second half performance that should have Burleigh fans excited about the year ahead.
It was an impressive performance from the new-look Bears – a squad that included nine brand new faces – but while coach Jim Lenihan was extremely pleased with the performance, he said it was important not to get carried away.
“As much as it’s nice to have a win, it’s still only round one; there’s still a lot of footy to be played,” he said.
“We don’t want to get too excited, but it’s nice to start the season like that and hopefully we can go in to next week and build some confidence.
“It was a good team effort. Everybody had a job to do and everybody did their job really well today.
“We probably had a couple of defensive errors that we’ll need to be better at, but the control we showed in the second half when the game was in the balance was really pleasing.”
In the end it was an afternoon to remember for the Bears, but the game got off to an inauspicious start as Wynnum centre Dan Wallace strolled through the Burleigh line in the seventh minute to open the scoring.
Burleigh were not down long, however, as returning favourite Luke Page barged his way over to level the scores.
With a strong wind behind them, the Seagulls had the better of field position for much of the first half and capitalised in the 27th minute when a Burleigh error gifted Pat Templeman a try in the corner.
Sticking to the task, Burleigh worked their way back up the other end of the field and halfback and captain Jamal Fogarty forced a repeat set with a lovely short kick.
That repeat set up an opportunity that the Bears took with both hands as winger Kurtis Rowe crossed in the corner to level the scores just before halftime.
The Seagulls regained the lead when Alex Barr found open space early in second half, but from there it was all Burleigh as they scored the next 28 consecutive points.
New halves pairing Jamal Fogarty and Cameron Cullen steered the ship masterfully as the Bears laid on six second half tries.
“Cullen and Jamal are always, constantly driving them around the park. They’re like having coaches out there. It was really, really pleasing to have a good set of halves that really controlled us,” Lenihan said.
“There was a big wind behind us in that second half, so we knew in the first half if we could just keep in touch with them and make sure we did all the hard work, that the second would be a lot easier for us.
“Once we held the ball and started turning them around we seemed to go really well and score some points.”
In the space of 18 minutes, Matt Srama, Connor Broadhurst, Darren Griffiths, Sami Sauiluma and Rowe had all scored tries and blown the lead out to 38-16.
Wynnum Manly got one back through Mitch Cronin shortly after, but the Bears put the icing on the cake in the 78th minute when Fogarty and Broadhurst combined to put Josh Berkers in for the final points.
The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears will open their home season next Sunday at 2pm when they host local rivals Tweed Heads who are also coming off a Round 1 win.
BURLEIGH BEARS 44 (Kurtis Rowe 2, Luke Page, Matt Srama, Connor Broadhurst, Darren Griffiths, Sami Sauilima, Joshua Berkers tries; Jamal Fogarty 5, Tyler Chadburn goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 22 (Daniel Wallace, Patrick Templeman, Alex Barr, Mitchell Cronin tries; Mathew Seamark 3 goals) at BMD Kougari Oval.
Read all the Round 1 match reports:
New Jets help secure Round 1 win
Kim’s Capras spoil Mackay’s party
Second-half comeback secures win for Tweed
Falcons celebrate closest of wins
Blackhawks win tight match v Phins
PNG open account v Magpies