The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears returned to winning form with a hard-fought 20-12 victory over Easts Tigers at Pizzey Park.
In what was a high-quality game between two of the competition heavyweights,the Bears finished stronger with an outstanding second half defensive effort.
The win sees Burleigh move into outright second on the competition ladder after 13 rounds, while Easts dropped to fifth as a result of the loss.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan was extremely pleased with his side’s performance and said the win sees his side continue to improve and move in the right direction as the competition reaches its halfway mark.
“Last week we didn’t give ourselves much opportunity early in the game because we gave away a lot of penalties and repeat sets to Redcliffe, where this week we were able to be a bit more disciplined,” he said.
“In the middle of the second half, the game was on a bit of a knife’s edge as to who would fight it out the best and I thought we got to the line stronger than they did, so it was a really good win.
“We’ve really worked hard on trying to build our game around defence. We’ve had some lapses but we’re certainly moving in the right direction with that sort of thing.
“It was just pleasing for the team after last week’s disappointment to come out and have a win against quality opposition at home and it just keeps us in the race.”
Burleigh didn’t waste any time getting started as Sami Sauiluma pushed past a couple to score the opening try in just the sixth minute.
Easts hit back with some razzle dazzle shortly after as Dane Chang brought down a cross-field kick and got a nice offload away to Shane Neumann to level the scores.
Burleigh got the lead back in the 24th minute when Cameron Cullen busted several attempted tackles before getting the ball to Sauiluma who crossed for his second.
A penalty goal in front from the following set of six saw Burleigh push the lead to beyond a converted try at the break.
Both teams battled hard in the first 20 minutes after halftime, but neither side could find a way through the other’s defence.
It took a skilful kick from Billy Walters to break things open, as the ball hit the post and bounced back for the chasing Brodie Croft, cutting the margin down to just two.
That try gave Easts a big lift in confidence, but the Bears shut it down shortly after when Luke Page came up with the play of the game.
The big front rower lined up for another charge, but stepped his way through the front line, accelerated through the gap into the backfield, then ran over the fullback to score a special try next to the posts.
That try was ultimately the winning play as the Bears defence muscled up superbly in the final 15-minutes, giving Easts no chance to make a late play for victory.
Lenihan said Page’s try was “amazing” and also praised the defensive efforts of co-captain Jamie Dowling and man of the match Oliver Regan.
“A lot of people came up with big plays at different times which was really important.
“We need people to stand up and have big moments. You don’t know when they’re going to be so you’ve always got to be ready for them.
“I thought Olly Regan, defensively reading the play was really good. Dowling’s repeat efforts in defence was really good. Page and the middles were really good running the ball.”
Burleigh will return to Pizzey Park next Sunday at 1.40pm to take on the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the TV game, while Easts will host Tweed Heads.
BURLEIGH BEARS 20 (Sami Sauiluma 2, Luke Page tries; Jamal Fogarty 4 goals) def EASTS TIGERS 12 (Shane Neumann, Brodie Croft tries; Billy Walters 2 goals) at Pizzey Park.