The Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears moved into a share of the Intrust Super Cup lead thanks to a 32-10 Round 14 win over Wynnum Manly Seagulls on Sunday.
In wet and windy conditions, the Bears outlasted the Seagulls to kick away in the final 20 minutes to record another strong win at home.
Despite being without the likes of Tyler Chadburn, Nathaniel Peteru and Sami Sauiluma, the Bears didn’t miss a beat and produced a polished, team performance.
“I’m just really happy with everyone’s contribution,” Bears coach Jim Lenihan said.
“We’re all realising how important everyone’s effort is to making the whole team’s effort really good. We’re competing well in all the effort areas.
“If we have one person start taking shortcuts the whole team starts falling apart, and at the moment everyone is realising how important their role is and how important that is to everyone in the team.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. (Wynnum) are a big, heavy team in the middle and we knew if we stuck at it long enough that the rewards would come in the last 20 minutes.”
Burleigh got away to a good start as Waka Wanahi came from the far wing to charge on to an inside ball from Jama Fogarty on the right side of the field. Wanahi found space and crossed for the opening try in the 13th minute.
The Bears got their roll going early and were rewarded with a penalty goal in the 23rd minute which stretched their lead beyond a converted try.
Wynnum worked their way into the contest soon after when fullback Daniel Ogden produced a brilliant 70m kick-return in the 30th minute.
On the next play the Seagulls spread the ball right and found Hayden Crowley, who stood up the Burleigh defence and raced away to score Wynnum’s first of the day.
Wynnum got themselves on top of the arm wrestle in the minutes leading up to halftime, but after a penalty got the Bears out of their end, Pat Politoni produced some fantastic sleight of hand as the halftime siren sounded.
With the Burleigh backline set on the right, Politoni caught everybody by surprise by ducking down the short side, breaking the front line and throwing the pass to Wanahi who scored his second to make it 14-6 at the break.
After the break, it was the Wynnum big men who rumbled through the middle as the Seagulls tried desperately to cut down the deficit.
They created try-scoring chances down their left side at least three times only for the last pass or kick to go astray.
Wynnum finally broke through in the 53rd minute when, after some handy lead-up work, Mitch Cronin grubbered to the corner for a flying Crowley to score his second and cut the margin to four.
That was as close as the Seagulls would get, however, as Burleigh pulled away in the final 20.
In the 64th minute Kurtis Rowe linked up with Jamie Dowling to score a vital try which took the margin out to 10, while Hayden Schwass powered his way to the line shortly after to put it beyond doubt.
A long-range intercept from Connor Broadhurst in the 78th minute was the cherry on top as the Bears ran out 32-10 winners.
Thanks to Townsville’s 18-16 loss to Redcliffe, Burleigh have now moved into equal top spot on the competition ladder, while Wynnum’s second straight defeat means they drop back to 10th.
While the ladder position is extremely pleasing, coach Lenihan is determined to keep his players’ minds on the task at hand without looking too far ahead.
“It’s good to celebrate a good thing today, but we’ve got to shake it off and turn around and get ready for what is going to be a really hard game against Tweed at Tweed next week,” he said.
“We’ve got to be in a position where we don’t look too far down the track. We’ve got to keep getting another win, dust ourselves off, then come together at the start of a new week and set ourselves for the next week’s game.
“I know it’s very cliché to say it but we’re really only looking one week at a time and dealing with what we’ve got to do each week.”
BURLEIGH BEARS 32 (Waka Wanahi 2, Kurtis Rowe, Hayden Schwass, Connor Broadhurst tries; Jamal Fogarty 6 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 10 (Hayden Crowley 2 tries; Mathew Seamark goal) at Pizzey Park.