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Forward charge: Falcons and Bears ready to rumble

There will be no quarter given on Sunday when the Burleigh Bears and Sunshine Coast Falcons go head-to-head in what promises to be a torrid but terrific affair on the field.

Arguably, the team that wins the battle of the forward packs will be the one that progresses through to the September 29 grand final, with both sides boasting some of the more impressive performers in the competition.

This extends to their captains Luke Page (Bears) and Dane Hogan (Falcons) who are gearing up for the epic encounter and said they would back their forwards over any team in the competition.

“We’ve just got to be aggressive in the middle,” Page said of the upcoming match up.

“Our job is pretty simple, we’ve just got to try to bash their forwards.

“There is no backing down to anyone in the middle and you can’t hide in the middle.

“If we play tough footy and back our style, that’s pretty much all we can do.”

Dane Hogan goes for a run.
Dane Hogan goes for a run.

Hogan said his focus on game day was on ensuring his pack did their jobs to lay a strong platform to allow the ‘flashier’ players in the team to do their thing.

“Each week, we are not having individual brilliance through our forward pack ... we are all just trying to do our jobs through the middle and lay that platform for the likes of Murph (Todd Murphy) and Cooper Johns and obviously Nicho Hynes, " Hogan said. 

"Getting quick play-the-balls has been one of our main things we have been trying to get for Harry Grant to jump out and take advantage of.

“At Burleigh, probably their main strength is their forward pack. They like to play aggressive and win the battle through the middle, but at the same time, I think we have a pretty good young forward pack as well.

“We have pretty good depth at our club at the moment, we have some pretty good forwards who aren’t making the 17 ... so our pack is pretty good as well and we’ll be trying to match it to them through the middle.”

The last time the two sides met in Round 22, it was a close but solid 20-14 win to the Falcons and unfortunately for the Bears, the loss was compounded by injuries to two key members of their pack.

“We had two big injuries in that last game against Sunshine Coast with Jack Buchanan and Jeff Lynch, who have both been huge for us all year,” Page said.

“Our depth at Burleigh is pretty good. We’ve got a lot of boys who have been playing A Grade who have stepped up and played really well in the last couple of weeks.

“Everyone was fighting for a spot all year and we’re confident in whoever puts that jersey on.

“It’s an even playing field, nobody is better than anyone else. I’m really confident in the boys that we’ve got now, and we’ll see how we go on the weekend.”

Hayden Schwass has been one of Burleigh's most consistent forwards in season 2019.
Hayden Schwass has been one of Burleigh's most consistent forwards in season 2019.

Hogan praised the work this season of his forwards that not only featured Melbourne Storm-contracted talent, but players who had put in consistent performances in for the Falcons all year.

“We have got a couple that come back from the Storm, young Tino Fa’asuamaleaui is going to be an outstanding player of the future – he already is – and we have Darryn Schonig who started the year with us, and his form before he got injured was so good the Storm ended up taking him on down there fulltime,” the former Easts Tiger skipper said.

“We also have guys like Chris Lewis... each week he is in our top three players and I think he’s only missed one or two games this year so he’s definitely a reliable player and Daniel Dole, with his intensity, he really strengthens up our defence and adds plenty of aggression as well.

“Another I have been pretty happy for as well is Burnsy (Sam Burns). He started the year as a nine, and obviously having Harry Grant, the form player of the competition, and being stuck behind him, he moved into that lock position and he’s a bit of a utility forward for us, so I think his energy and doing all the small things around the ruck has been really good for us.”

Daniel Dole has been a strong performer for the Falcons this season.
Daniel Dole has been a strong performer for the Falcons this season.

While both captains are focusing on their own preparations for the elimination final, they were happy to share their thoughts on each other as fellow veterans of the competition and leaders at their respective clubs.

While the animosity will be on show on the weekend with a spot in the Intrust Super Cup decider on the line, both were almost disarmingly respectful of their opposition.

“We’ve played a fair bit of footy against each other over the years - he is obviously a competitor, and he’s up there with one of the hardest blokes to tackle front on in the competition,” Hogan said of the PNG Kumuls representative.

“He’s always going to be going his hardest and trying to get his team on the front foot. He’s obviously a tough individual and he’s played a lot of Intrust Super Cup games and he’s definitely a high calibre of player.”

Luke Page on a charge for Burleigh.
Luke Page on a charge for Burleigh.

Page spoke about Hogan’s consistency and how his on-field efforts would be inspiring his team.

“If you’re good week in and week out, you’re always going to inspire the boys around you and he’s a great leader for his club,” Page said.

“I’ve had heaps of tough games against him, even when he was playing for Easts.

“I remember when I started playing Intrust Super Cup, he was the second rower or the lock you always had to look out for and I’m sure he’ll be turning it on for his boys trying to get the win over us on Sunday.”