Four game-ending injuries and an empty bench didn’t stop the Burleigh Bears from re-claiming the Kokoda Cup in a thrilling 25-8 Anzac Day victory against the Papua New Guinea Hunters.
Match: Bears v Hunters
Round 5 -
Venue: Pizzey Park, Gold Coast
Winning three of their last four games, the Hunters were coming into the contest full of confidence and momentum; but the battered Bears hung on by their claws in what could be a ‘turning point’ to their slow start to the season.
“Considering the circumstances in today’s game, we really showed what we are capable of doing on the field,” Bears skipper said Luke Page post-match.
“Everyone played their own part and it’s good to see some reward from our hard work.”
Dropping back from the Titans and starting off the bench, the Bears injuries woes worked in favour of Beau Fermor, who scored a scintillating hat-trick.
“Obviously when I come back from the Titans, I’m here as a Burleigh Bear, so it’s important that I play well for the Bears,” said Fermor.
Named as the Titans 18th man in their opening rounds, Fermor was pleased to churn out a consistent game of rugby league with the Bears.
“They (Bears) are so welcoming. You don’t feel like an outsider, which makes my job on the field a lot easier.”
It was the hat-trick hero who started the home side's scoring streak, making his way over the line for his first of three in the early minutes of the game.
It wasn’t long before Page followed. His impressive performance earned him the Hastings Deering player of the match.
“That is just a bonus for me. The hard work I put in today is all for the boys,” said Page.
Consecutive injuries to Cory Denniss, Jonus Pearson, Jacob Hind and Jack Stockwell quickly cleared the Bears bench, giving PNG the momentum to put their first points on the board minutes before half-time.
The Hunters returned to the second half firing, with winger Norman Brown crashing through the Bears' poor defensive line.
An impressive linebreak saw Fermor secure his second, minutes before Api Noema-Matenga made it back-to-back tries for the home side.
The Hunters quickly responded and matched the Bears; Brandon Nima and Terry Wapi scoring tries of their own.
It was anyone's game in the final 10 minutes of play, but Fermor sealed the deal for the Bears, crossing over for his third in the 78th minute.
“He was incredible for us, I’m very happy with his performance,” said Bears coach Rick Stone.
Players will enjoy a week off before the Bears take on the undefeated Devils in Round 6.
Match: Devils v Bears
Round 6 -
Venue: Bishop Park, Brisbane
The Hunters line up against the Brisbane Tigers.
Match: Hunters v Tigers
Round 6 -
Venue: Bycroft Oval, Gold Coast