Beenleigh Juniors completed the final piece of their 2018 puzzle by snaring a 20-12 victory over the Aspley Devils in the Rugby League Brisbane Cross River Challenge last Saturday.
The Cross River Challenge, which pits the winners of the Rugby League Brisbane Southside and Northside competitions against each other, was contested across Open 1, 2 and 3 Divisions at Emerson Park.
Beenleigh Juniors took out the Open 3 contest, while North Lakes defeated Greenbank in Open 2 and Normanby defeated Bulimba in the Open 1 Division.
Beenleigh got on the board with barely three minutes on the clock when Billy Griffiths crashed in besides the sticks.
The Devils didn't need to wait long for their response, as hooker Nelson Smith cut loose from dummy half to scoot away and slide in under the posts and level the scores.
Both sides were strong defensively, but the Devils were leading the charge up front through Jesse Argeros and Justin Pfeiffer who were arguably Aspley's best players on the park.
Beenleigh continued to invite Aspley into their own half with loose carries and it wasn't long before repeated indiscretions in the ruck to slow the play-the-ball resulted in a Beenleigh player being dispatched to the bin for the last 10 mins of the first half.
Devils five-eighth Will Anderson slotted a penalty goal right on halftime to see the Devils go to the break leading 6-4.
Aspley continued to put pressure on the Lions in the second half, however outstanding five-eighth Ypreus Williams spotted a yawning hole out wide to race away and score to put Beenleigh back in front.
That try was followed up by lock Dwayne Acai beating three defenders to cross under the sticks as Beenleigh started to turn the tide in their favour.
The Southside champions started to kick into overdrive as the rain started to teem down. Lions centre Poni Rapana and fullback Ashleigh Warner, both standouts for the Lions, were still dominating in attack.
However, a Lions error five metres out from their own line gifted Devils centre Alex Paxton the opportunity to scoop up the pill and go in untouched, opening the door for a Devils comeback at 14-12.
But as brave and commendable as they were, the Devil's simply ran out of gas in the last five minutes.
Lions replacement player Keiren Nukunuku lunged over from dummy half to score the last try of the game and wrap up a Beenleigh victory in what was an admirable performance from both clubs.
Cross River Challenge Results
Open 1: Normanby 36 def Bulimba 16
Open 2: North Lakes 34 def Greenbank 22
Open 3: Beenleigh Juniors 20 def Aspley Devils 12
* Mike Simpson is a QRL correspondent covering the Rugby League Brisbane senior competitions