The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears lead the Intrust Super Cup after two rounds thanks to a 36-26 win over arch rivals Tweed Heads at Pizzey Park today.
One of only three unbeaten teams left in the competition, Burleigh set up the win with an exceptional opening 20 minutes that saw them race to an 18-0 lead.
The Seagulls fought until the very end, but couldn’t make up the ground lost in the opening exchanges.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan was happy to secure back-to-back wins to open the season, but said his side still has plenty of improvement left in them.
“I thought it was great to get the win and start the year with two wins, but we probably didn’t play our best,” he said.
“If we’re not playing our best and still getting away with a win that’s not a bad sign, but we’ve still got plenty to work on this week and look for a better effort next week against Sunny Coast.”
The Bears got away to a dream start when former Gull Jamal Fogarty turned the ball inside for a rampaging Paterika Vaivai who barged over the line for the opening try.
Shortly after, Sami Sauiluma showed why his acquisition was so highly touted during the pre-season by setting up a contender for try of the year.
With nothing on, Tyler Chadburn threw the ball wide to Sauiluma who fended off two defenders to break into the clear. He then chipped ahead, regathered and offloaded to a supporting Fogarty who went in to score a special try.
Shortly after, Sauiluma showed brute strength to barge over the line and score his own try and stretch the lead out to 18-0.
It was a rugby league clinic early on from the Bears, but the Tweed Seagulls are a team known for battling through adversity and through some exciting play on the left, set up a try for Leva Li in the corner.
Five minutes later, returning livewire Shannon Walker showed that he has still got it by standing up several defenders and setting up a try for Shaun Carney making it 18-10 at the break.
Burleigh suffered a setback early in the second half with stalwart lock Darren Griffiths carried off the field with a nasty looking ankle injury.
It didn’t slow them on the scoreboard, however, as Matt Srama snuck his way out of dummy half and over the try line to extend the lead to 14.
Tweed stayed in touch when Walker again proved too much to handle in the 57th minute; this time stepping his way to his own try.
Burleigh, however, were deserving winners on the day and back-to-back tries to Fogarty and Connor Broadhurst in the 61st and 67th minutes respectively closed out the contest.
Tweed scored twice in the final 10 minutes – once through Michael Burgess and a second for Walker (this time an 80 metre runaway effort) – bringing the final score to 36-26.
Bears back-rower Hayden Schwass was named man of the match for an outstanding display in the middle.
In just his first season out of the Colts system, the young gun has played every minute of the opening two games and has taken the step up to Cup in his stride.
“He was excellent today. I thought he was easily our best player,” Lenihan said.
“He started on the edge and then went in to the middle and really tied us up well defensively in there once Griffo got that injury.
“He certainly didn’t look out of place one bit, I thought he played really well.”
The Tweed will look to bounce back next weekend against PNG in Port Moresby, while the Bears will return to Pizzey Park in when they host the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
BURLEIGH BEARS 36 (Jamal Fogarty 2, Paterika Vaivai, Sami Sauilima, Matthew Srama, Connor Broadhurst tries; Tyler Chadburn 6 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 26 (Shannon Walker 2, Leva Li, Shaun Carney, Michael Burgess tries; Nathanael Barnes 3 goals) at Pizzey Park.
Round 2 match reports: