The Sunshine Coast Falcons held off a fast finishing Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears to win 24-12 at Pizzey Park yesterday.
The Bears clawed their way back to 18-12 late in the game after trailing 18-0 at halftime, only for former Burleigh halfback Ryley Jacks to make the decisive play in the 74th minute.
Jacks broke the line and set up winger Alex Copelin in the dying minutes to secure his team’s seventh win of the season, moving into third spot on the ladder after 10 games.
Burleigh worked hard for 80 minutes and did well to fight their way back in the second half, but again their struggles in attack and their inability to convert field position into points often enough came back to haunt them.
Despite a top six defensive record at the start of the round, the Bears are averaging just 12 points a game in attack; the least of any team in the competition this season.
Only twice have they scored 20 points or more in a game; both were wins in Round 6 and Round 7.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan said there is no easy fix to their offensive struggles, they just need to focus on working hard and improving in the long term.
“We just lack potency with the ball at the moment; we can’t score points,” he said.
“We’re trying hard and we defensively kept ourselves in the game and we nearly grinded our way back into it at 18-12, but then lost it at the end.
“I think we’re probably a better defensive side than we were this time last year, but at the moment we can’t seem to find 20-points in a game, whereas last year we were scoring 30s and 40s on a regular basis.”
The Falcons were impressive in the first half and did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game.
As a result, they wore the Bears down and started chipping away until cracks began to appear in the 18th minute.
The opening try came on the back of a Burleigh error, as the Bears spilled it 10m out from their own line.
Jye Ballinger was in the right place at the right time, picking up the ball and crashing over to score under the posts.
From there, two pieces of brilliance from Jahrome Hughes would see the Falcons take a comfortable halftime lead.
First, in the 24th minute, an inch-perfect chip kick into the in-goal for Jacks took it to 12-0, before Hughes did it all himself in the 38th minute.
He broke through the line with footwork around halfway, then used more speed and footwork to beat the fullback and runaway to score his team’s third try.
The visitors were in total control at this point, but the Bears didn’t drop their heads and kept fighting in the second stanza.
After grinding away and getting back in the physical contest, the Bears were rewarded with points in the 53rd minute when they spread it to the right for Daniel Vidot to score in the corner.
Burleigh kept chipping away and when Daniel Schwass straightened into a gap with 11 minutes remaining, the home side had a sniff.
But Jacks and Copelin slammed the door shut with just over five minutes remaining, resigning Burleigh to their eighth loss of the season.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 24 (Jye Ballinger, Ryley Jacks, Jahrome Hughes, Alexander Copelin tries; Samuel Young 3, Guy Hamilton goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 12 (Daniel Vidot, Daniel Schwass tries; Keanu Te Kiri, Daniel Schwass goals) at Pizzey Park.