The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears survived a late scare to defeat the Norths Devils 36-32 at Pizzey Park to remain on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder.
They led 36-4 with 15 minutes left on the clock, only for the Devils to come roaring back, scoring five tries to almost do the unthinkable and steal victory.
'I’m disappointed that we limped to the line'
Bears coach Jim Lenihan said his team “put the cue in the rack” when they had amassed a big lead and that they must banish that from their game as they approached the business end of the season.
“We certainly did some really good stuff at times. I’d say for about 30-35 minutes we played really well today, but other times we let ourselves down,” he said.
“A win is a win, I’d take even a one-point win every day of the week, but to perform like that for the last 20; there are no excuses.
“I’m disappointed that we limped to the line. We’ll need to be a lot better if we want to beat Townsville in Townsville next week.”
While they didn’t finish the game the way they would have liked, there was still plenty of highlights for much of the contest.
Paterika Vaivai was enormous off the bench and his momentum-shifting stint earned him man of the match, while playmakers Pat Politoni, Jamal Fogarty and Kurtis Rowe all had moments to shine as well.
The win meant the Bears held on to the competition lead, three-points clear of Redcliffe and PNG who were tied for second.
“We’ve done a lot this year to try and be better at what we do, and we just let ourselves down a little bit and put the cue in the rack,” Lenihan said.
“We’ve just got to be harder on ourselves and expect more of ourselves. We’ve got to invest more in ourselves and expect more of ourselves to be better.”
With a strong wind behind them, the Devils controlled the opening portion of the game and were rewarded with a try to Michael Lucas in the 12th minute.
The tide didn’t turn Burleigh’s way until the 19th minute when captain Jamal Fogarty burst through the line, found Hayden Schwass in support`, who then gave it to Olly Regan to open the scoring for Burleigh.
It was a shot of confidence for the Bears who were at it again seven minutes later when Sami Sauiluma produced a wonderful chip and chase to score.
A Vaivai offload created space for Luke Page to power over in the 30th minute, before Hayden Schwass hit a beautiful line in the 38th minute to give Burleigh a 24-4 lead at the break.
Huge lead vanishes
The points kept flowing when play resumed as Regan bagged his second out wide. When Vaivai used pure strength to score in the 56th minute, they had amassed a seemingly unbeatable 36-4 lead.
Injuries to Vaivai and Sauiluma put pressure on the fatiguing Bears, but nobody would have predicted the finish that came.
Norths got the ball rolling in the 67th minute when Lucas grabbed his second. In the 71st minute Todd Murphy finished off an 80m movement to give the match some life.
Paul Steele scored in the 75th minute and Dodd scored his third on the next set to bring them within striking range.
Jarryd Dodd scored on the fulltime siren, but despite having all the momentum they ran out of time, falling four points short of what would have been the comeback of the season.
BURLEIGH BEARS 36 (Olly Regan 2, Sami Sauiluma, Luke Page, Hayden Schwass, Paterika Vaivai tries; Jamal Fogarty 6 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 32 (Michael Lucas 3, Jarryd Dodd, Todd Murphy, Paul Steele tries; Todd Murphy 4 goals) at Pizzey Park.