Two teams accustomed to surf and sand were treated to a healthy dose of regional hospitality when they travelled to St George for “Get in the Game” Country Week.
The Burleigh Bears and Sunshine Coast Falcons were the centrepiece of a weekend full of community activity. Before taking the field, both teams were guests of the St George Jockey Club for the annual St George Cup as well as attending a Men of League fundraiser on Saturday evening at the St George Cultural Centre.
On the field, both teams had plenty to play for. The Falcons were hoping to retain second spot on the ladder and while Burleigh’s title defence has not gone to plan, they were looking to string back-to-back wins together after last week’s hard fought derby win over Tweed.
The Bears were first out the gate with a converted try to Sami Sauiluma in only the third minute of the contest. An arm wrestle ensued for the following 15 minutes as both sides struggled with fifth tackle options. It was Burleigh that broke the shackles with a long-range effort from Jamie Dowling.
The Falcons hit back with 10 minutes remaining in the half through a spectacular length of the field effort by Justin Olam after combining with Guy Hamilton. The Hamilton conversion smacked in to the uprights to keep the Bears a converted try ahead.
A sweeping backline movement and a great pass from halfback Jamal Fogarty allowed Jake Carl to crash over on the corner in the dying minutes of the first half. Fogarty’s sideline conversion saw the Bears lead 16-4 at the break.
The Burleigh blitz continued to start the second half. Off the back of some good second phase play Jake Carl scored a double to extend the Bears lead to 22-4. Ten minutes later and Carl had a third after taking an intercept and running away untouched. The Bears lead extended to 28-4 with 20 minutes remaining.
The Falcons remained in the hunt with Matt Soper-Lawler diving over in spectacular fashion in the right-hand corner. This followed Burleigh being reduced to 12 men with Henare Wells being sent to the sinbin for dissent. Ryley Jacks scored in the next set and the Falcons trailed by 14 with 14 minutes remaining.
Playing with plenty of energy, the Falcons ensured a grandstand finish when Tui Kamikamika crashed over with 10 minutes remaining.
Jake Carl’s forth try only two minutes later seemingly killed off any chance of a Falcons revival. With eight minutes remaining the Bears led 32-20. However, a short kick-off paid dividends for the Falcons and Soper-Lawler’s second got them back to within a converted try with five minutes until full time.
A last-ditch effort from the Falcons was thwarted on the bell with the Burleigh Bears running out winners 32-26.
BURLEIGH BEARS 32 (Jake Carl 4, Sami Sauiluma, Jamie Dowling tries; Jamal Fogarty 4 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 26 (Matthew Soper-Lawler 2, Justin Olam, Ryley Jacks, Tui Kamikamica tries; Guy Hamilton 3 goals) at Rowden Park, St George.