Clifford's boot gives Pride win over Bears
A super strike from Jake Clifford after the siren saw the Northern Pride steal a 30-28 win over the Burleigh Bears in a classic match to start Round 14.
The young Cowboys-contracted halfback Clifford was a key contributor throughout the game – but his crucial involvement came when he lined up the kick right on the left-hand touchline and calmly slotted the match-winner and his fifth from five attempts to hand the Bears their first home loss this season.
The Bears had looked in total control early in the second half when they ran in four quick tries; but the Pride fought to the final minute and were rewarded when Gideon Gela-Mosby dotted the ball down in the corner to level the scores – setting the stage for his halfback to slot the winner.
In a high-quality game with a number of players putting their hand for Hastings Deering Man of the Match honours, include Bears pair Hayden Schwass and Jamal Fogarty, it was the involvement of late inclusion Ben Hampton that earned him the honours.
The Cowboys utility played at fullback and picked himself up two and help set up the match-leveller from Gela-Mosby.
In a back-and-forth game befitting two in-form teams; it was the Bears who got on the board early with forward Matthew Robinson the beneficiary of some great lead-up from Fogarty and Kurtis Rowe who busted up the middle of the Pride.
It took almost 20 minutes for the visitors to respond and it came after the Bears threw an intercept with Clifford taking the ball up the field to help set up eventual try scorer Murry Taulagi.
They earned themselves the lead at halftime when Hampton found Connor Jones in support after producing a quick run from dummy half. Clifford’s conversion in the 33rd minute had the Pride up 12-6.
Hampton scored his first try four minutes into the second half – a hugely impressive kick-return from his own end where he produced a fend and footwork before running the length-of-the-field to score under the posts.
However, the Bears then went on a roll and scored the next four tries in a row, with heavy involvement from the classy Fogarty.
The first was a try of his own where he showed great stepping skills to outsmart defenders on their own try line, while the second saw him turn big forward Josh Ailaomai inside to crash over.
He was then part a string of passing out to the left to put centre Sami Sauiluma over – while the fourth try was all Rowe, who fooled defenders with a massive dummy out of dummy half after the Pride had worked hard to hold Pat Politoni up over the line.
They were up 28-18 before the Pride mounted their successful comeback which started when Hampton was there to chase through a Clifford grubber in the 69th minute.
Their last try was a whole team effort, with the ball going from left to right to left again for Gela-Mosby to dive over in a thrilling finish.
Next weekend, the Bears host the Sunshine Coast, while the Pride travel to play Wynnum Manly Seagulls.
NORTHERN PRIDE 30 (Ben Hampton 2, Murray Taulagi, Connor Jones, Gideon Gela-Mosby tries; Jake Clifford 5 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 28 (Matthew Robinson, Jamal Fogarty, Josh Ailaomai, Sami Sauiluma, Kurtis Rowe tries; Tyrone Roberts-Davis 4 goals) at Pizzey Park.