The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears are alone at the top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder thanks to a 36-4 win over arch rivals Tweed Heads at Piggabeen.
In awful conditions the Bears were clinical as they secured their 11th win of the season, which moved them one point ahead of Redcliffe and PNG after 15 rounds.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan was extremely pleased with the performance of his side but insists that they need to remain focused on continual improvement and can’t afford to get complacent with their position on the ladder.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what we’re doing at the moment,” he said.
“I thought our defence was really good today. It would have been nice to keep them to zero but they scored a try off a kick in the last couple of minutes.
“It’s nice (to be in first place) but like we’ve said before; you don’t get anything for being first at this point in the season.
“I don’t consider us to be a bulletproof team. We need to keep looking to improve and remember that sides like Redcliffe, Townsville, Easts and Hunters are still right there. It’s so tight at the top, we just need to keep playing week-by-week.”
Scoring got under way quickly for the Bears, as fullback Kurtis Rowe loomed out the back and sliced through to score the opening try in just the third minute.
From there, both sides got into the grind of wet-weather football with a 14th minute penalty goal extending Burleigh’s lead to eight.
During that period, Tweed turned over the ball too often while the Bears were able to hold the ball and build pressure, and it paid off later in the half.
In the 25th minute, Jamal Fogarty and Cameron Cullen linked up to create space for Sami Sauiluma who raced away to score out wide on the left.
The Bears spread it to the right side in the 30th minute as some beautiful, quick hands from Kurtis Rowe put Connor Broadhurst through a hole to extend the lead to 18-0.
When Paterika Vaivai powered over next to the posts in the 37th minute the result looked to be beyond any doubt.
‘It takes a lot of skill out of the game and makes it all about hard work and choices’ - Bears coach Jim Lenihan
Conditions worsened in the second half which slowed down any further scoring from either team, but the Bears managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the 59th minute when Cameron Cullen went down the blindside on the last tackle.
He caught the defence short and put Josh Ailaomai into space who passed it on to Waka Wanahi who dived into the corner. A 73rd minute try to Josh Ailaomai made it 36-0.
Tweed’s only moment of joy came with three minutes left on the clock as Leva Li scooped up an Alex Grant grubber to score in the corner.
Lenihan said his team, and especially his big forward pack, handled the conditions very well.
“There was no need to be flamboyant or try to push anything. It was just about field position and defending well, which I think we did really well,” he said.
“I thought our middle boys were really good. They love the rain, too. It takes a lot of skill out of the game and makes it all about hard work and choices.
“If you want to choose to do the hard work, you’ll get the rewards. We were able to do that hard work today and we got the reward.”
Man of the match
Fullback Kurtis Rowe – who scored the opening try, threw the last pass for another and was remarkably safe at the back – was named XXXX man of the match.
It was another strong performance from Rowe who has been arguably the most consistent player at the club in recent weeks.
“He's been great for us and very, very safe,” Lenihan said.
“He doesn’t come up with any errors at the back and he’s organising our defence really well which is an area I think we’re slowly improving in each week.”
BURLEIGH BEARS 36 (Kurtis Rowe, Sami Sauiluma, Connor Broadhurst, Paterika Vaivai, Waka Wanahi, Joshua Ailaomai tries; Jamal Fogarty 6 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 4 (Leva Li try) at Piggabeen Sports.