A masterclass from new-look halves pairing Jamal Fogarty and Dylan Phythian led the Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears to a 26-12 win over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls in Round 21.
With regular five-eighth Dallas Wells suffering a season-ending injury in PNG last week, mid-season recruit Phythian was handed the number 6 jersey alongside Fogarty and together they made a strong impression, combining to produce four of the Bears’ five tries.
Phythian was pivotal in creating tries for Sami Sauiluma and Troy Leo, while Fogarty’s boot led to Hayden Schwass and Pythian himself getting four-pointers of their own in their win that saw them claim the Adam Watene Cup.
Their kicking game was strong as well, with Phythian nailing a 40/20 late in the first half and both men controlling the contest with good last tackle options.
They did it on the back of what Bears coach Jim Lenihan described as “clean, honest and simple football” as Burleigh focussed on getting the basics right ahead of the semi-finals.
“We did a lot of things better this week,” he said. “Last week against PNG we didn’t really control the ball well, we were a bit all over the place, our kicking game wasn’t great; today we had a real focus on getting back to basics.
“At the end of our sets, we controlled where we were giving them the ball a lot better. It was about giving them the ball back as close to their try line as possible all the time and just making them run out all day.
“We completed a lot better and gave ourselves a lot more chances which wore them down.”
First points came in the eighth minute when Phythian threw a cut-out ball, putting Leo into space. He then linked with Sauiluma on the inside who crossed for the opening try.
Ten minutes later, Pyhthian went from provider to try-scorer as Fogarty put up a perfectly weighted mid-field bomb, with the chasing Pythian leaping above the pack and bringing the ball down to score.
Burleigh continued to pile on the pressure, with Pyhthian again throwing the crucial pass to get Sauiluma into space on the left in the 32nd minute. The big centre used his strength to shrug off one tackle, stand in another and then offload to Leo who crossed out wide, giving the Bears a 16-0 lead at halftime.
In the 51st minute, Pat Politoni orchestrated a lovely set-piece close to the line, with a big gap opening up for Jeff Lynch to stroll through and score untouched.
Burleigh finished up their try-scoring efforts in the 64th minute when Fogarty put a short grubber in behind the line, with Hayden Schwass on the spot to extend the lead to 26-0.
It took until the 69th minute for Wynnum Manly to get on the board, as Daniel Ogden broke through the middle and found Jeriah Goodrich in support.
Goodrich looked certain to score again just three minutes later, but was brought down from behind by Josh Berkers.
The effort of Berkers went unrewarded, however, as Max Elliot pushed over the try line on the very next play, bringing the final score to 26-12.
The loss means Wynnum’s finals chances are almost certainly finished, while the Bears stay in the fight for a top two spot.
While a loss for Townsville and Redcliffe’s draw with Mackay this weekend certainly helped the Bears prospects, Lenihan said now is not the time to be worrying about other results.
“We just need to keep playing well and winning and find some form heading into the back end of the year,” he said.
“What happens with other sides and what they’re doing doesn’t really concern us. We just need to build our game and get ourselves back together. We have been limping a little bit so today was a good tough win which we really needed to have.”
BURLEIGH BEARS 26 (Sami Sauiluma, Dylan Phythian, Troy Leo, Jeff Lynch, Hayden Schwass tries; Jamal Fogarty 3 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 12 (Jeriah Goodrich, Max Elliott tries; Shaun Nona 2 goals) at Pizzey Park.
*Kevin Braysher is a QRL correspondent covering the Burleigh Bears