The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears turned in one of their most complete performances of the season to defeat Norths Devils 26-6 at Bishop Park earlier today.
The Bears, who have been one of the most exciting attacking teams in the competition all season, muscled up in defence and held the Devils scoreless in the second half en route to their fourth win in the opening five rounds of the season.
“I thought today was our best game that we’ve had,” Bears coach Jim Lenihan said. “Even though we were three from four coming in, we’ve been drifting in and out of games with our consistency and our mental toughness.
“Sometimes when it looked like the job was done we would switch off, whereas today I thought ... (we) kept turning up for each other which was the most satisfying part of the win.”
It was a tight, evenly-matched game early on before the Bears pulled away in the second half.
Returning skipper Jamie Dowling got scoring underway for the Bears in just the third minute when he charged onto a short ball from Cameron Cullen.
While Burleigh started in fine form, the only other points they could manage in the first half was a penalty goal to Jamal Fogarty as the Devils did well to hold them out.
Norths spent much of the first half on the back foot, but broke through with a try to big Dylan Smith on the stroke of half time which saw them carry plenty of confidence into the second half.
With the game on the line, it was Burleigh who responded best in the second half, with big men Pat Vaivai and Josh Ailaomai leading the way in the middle and getting the Bears on the front foot.
That go-forward eventually led to points in the 48th minute when Burleigh went down the short side on the last tackle. Cullen kicked ahead for Kurtis Rowe who regathered, gave it back to Cullen, who then put Fogarty away for the try.
The halves partnership of Cullen and Fogarty, which is shaping as one of the strongest in the competition, again combined shortly after.
This time, Cullen showed terrific acceleration to break through the line as Fogarty loomed in support once again to grab his second of the day.
In the 63rd minute, Fogarty turned provider as he combined with Hayden Schwass on the right hand side to extend the lead to 26-6.
The Devils came hard at the Burleigh line in the final 15 minutes, but they turned them away repeatedly with some spirited defence that left coach Lenihan extremely impressed.
“It was pleasing that we held them out for that whole second half. We’re really try to grow as a tight team in that sort of situation and have that be a bit of a focus,” he said.
“Even at the end there when we were comfortable and they had a few sets on our line we were still able to find a way to defend it.
“If we had of lost today we probably would have been about where we were last year ... so if we can just keep getting these results and then getting set and rehabbed for the next week’s game, well that’s the best thing for us at the moment.”
BURLEIGH BEARS 26 (Jamal Fogarty 2, Jamie Dowling, Hayden Schwass tries; Jamal Fogarty 5 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 6 (Dylan Smith tries; Todd Murphy goals) at Bishop Park.
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