The Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears have gone down 32-16 to a slick Redcliffe Dolphins at Pizzey Park.
The Bears, who battled numerous injury setbacks throughout the contest, did well to fight their way to a close halftime score, but were blitzed in the 20 minutes after the break where the Dolphins ran away with the contest.
The Dolphins punched through the middle which created space for the likes of secondrower Daniel Bridge – who scored three tries – to do the damage on the edges.
Tries to Tom Opacic, Tyson Cleal and Tyson Gamble helped the Dolphins solidify their standing in second place on the ladder.
Burleigh’s injuries took a toll as the match wore on, losing captain Jamie Dowling in the first half to a head knock, while Sami Sauiluma and Daniel Vidot hobbled their way to halftime.
Sauiluma succumbed to injury shortly after the break and did not return, while Vidot played on with some restricted movement.
When Darren Griffiths came from the field with a lower leg injury later in the second half it meant the Bears finished the game with 13 fit players. Throw in the fact that both Sam Coster and Dylan Kelly were put on report during the game and it was an unhappy afternoon for the home side.
The Bears finished with a flurry, with tries to Kurtis Rowe and Daniel Vidot closing the gap a bit, but the Dolphins had already done more than enough by that stage.
Bears coach Jim Lenihan refused to blame the result on any injury concerns and instead lamented his side’s inability to put the Dolphins under pressure as Redcliffe controlled field position for most of the contest.
“We did do some good things but we just lacked the ability to put them under pressure with field position to give our attack a chance,” he said.
“It showed when we did get some field position for that 10-15 minute stretch towards the end that we were able to put on points quite easily, but it was just our inability to keep any pressure on them was our biggest problem today.
“We gave away too much field position and didn’t really mount any pressure and I think we fell into a bit of bundle after halftime and defensively got caught out a few times as well.”
Scoring started early for the Dolphins, who forced repeat sets in the opening five minutes and capitalised when the outside Burleigh defence came up.
Jack Ahearn played it perfectly, with a nicely weighted grubber kick to the corner for Tom Opacic to score.
Ten minutes later another short grubber from Ahearn led to Bridge’s first and Redcliffe’s second of the day.
Burleigh managed to halt Redcliffe’s early momentum, and arguably had the ascendancy for the later part of the first half.
They were rewarded for their efforts in the 32nd minute when they went right to Connor Broadhurst, who wore a heavy shot, but still burrowed over the line to score to make it 10-6 at the break.
Sadly, for Burleigh, that was as close as they would get as the Dolphins set about putting the game out reach in the second stanza.
Another short grubber kick led to Bridge’s second try in the 48th minute followed by Tyson Cleal strolling through the middle of the Burleigh defence five minutes later.
A pair of tries in the 59th and 62nd minutes sealed the win, as the Dolphins came up with two lovely short balls on either side of the ruck for Tyson Gamble and Daniel Bridge to go over untouched and put the game out of reach.
Burleigh responded by recovering the ball from a short kick off, then going through the hands on the right to put Kurtis Rowe over in the corner.
A lovely flick pass from Dylan Kelly gave Daniel Vidot clear passage to the line five minutes later, but it was too little too late for the Bears as the Dolphins ran out 32-16 winners.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 32 (Daniel Bridge 3, Tom Opacic, Tyson Cleal, Tyson Gamble tries; Tyson Gamble 4 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 16 (Connor Broadhurst, Kurtis Rowe, Daniel Vidot tries; Jamal Fogarty 2 goals) at Pizzey Park.