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Defending champs hit form in SEQW

Unbeaten in their past six games, the Burleigh Bears have moved back to the top of the South East Queensland Senior Women's competition with the semi-finals in sight.

Only four games remain in the regular season and with five wins and a draw in their last six appearances, the three-time defending champion Bears are finding their groove at the right time.

"I think we're going really well considering for the last three games we've been short our rep players," Bears coach Tahnee Norris said.

"The girls have really stood up and they've been consistent too. They've been really tough up the middle of the park and they're playing for each other at the moment and it's definitely a good time of year to be doing that."

Their run of form comes as the busy representative season wraps up. A dozen Bears were selected to take part in the Women's National Championships on the first weekend of June, and four of those players were subsequently selected to represent Queensland in the inaugural Women's State of Origin last Friday night.

Tazmin Gray, Tallisha Harden, Rona Peters and Zahara Temara all lined up for the historic game, with the Blues winning 16-10 in a thriller.

Gray was named in the Jillaroos Merit Team after a stand out display, while Harden, Temara and Peters along with fellow Bear Chelsea Lenarduzzi were all named in the 2018 Elite Australian NRL squad back in March. So far, Harden has been announced as a Brisbane Bronco while Temara will head to Sydney to join the Roosters.

Norris said the entire squad are proud of the individual goals being achieved throughout the Burleigh playing ranks.

"Tallisha Harden got picked for Queensland (previously), but had a knee injury and missed out," she said. "So, for her to make it back from that; I'm just really happy for her to be back in the mix and the same with Tazmin Gray.

"Coming back from a pregnancy and making it back in the Queensland team and playing really good footy in that Origin game, it gives you really good feelings to see it and it's good for our Burleigh girls, too. They look up to these girls that have made it to that level and they're proud to play with them every week."

With elite pathways opening up more than ever before, especially with the upcoming NRL Women's Premiership, it's perhaps more important than ever to perform at club level.

"They're definitely playing week-to-week with the intent to represent, which is a good thing," Norris said. "But they're playing for and focused on the Burleigh Bears as well because it is important to them.

"I think it's a good thing. There's so many things that the girls can be part of now. If you want an NRL contract, you've just got to keep performing and be consistent.

"You might not have played in an Origin game, but there are still people looking all the time. There are girls like Amber Pilley, who missed out on Origin this year, but I think she's going to be one of the future players in the NRL."

This week, the Bears return home to Pizzey Park with their representative stars available against the Souths Magpies.

The Magpies started the season slowly, but have fired in the last two months. They are now knocking on the door of finals football and boast three Origin players of their own in Annette Brander, Meg Ward and Steph Hancock.

Norris said she will be looking for her side to control the middle of the field and work towards applying consistent pressure with their attack.

"If anything, I'm surprised they're only just hitting their straps now, because there are some really standout players in that team," she said.

"Even though they've got some good players in their team, we're just trying to concentrate on us and what we're trying to achieve on the park and lately it's been coming off."

Kick-off between the Bears and Magpies is this Saturday afternoon (tomorrow) at 4.30pm. Elsewhere, the West Brisbane Panthers host Toowoomba while on Sunday the Easts Tigers take on Brothers Ipswich.

SEQW Division 1 Round 13

Burleigh Bears v Souths Magpies – Saturday June 30 at Pizzey Park, 4.30pm

Wests Brisbane Panthers v Toowoomba – Saturday June 30 at Kev McKell Oval, 5pm

Easts Tigers v Brothers Ipswich – Sunday July 1 at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park, 3pm

SEQW Division 1 Ladder  
1. Burleigh Bears 29 
2. Easts Tigers  28 
3. West Brisbane Panthers  25 
4. Brothers Ipswich  24 
5. Souths Magpies  24 
6. Toowoomba  14 
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