The Burleigh Bears claimed grand final success in the Holcim Cup last season, but will be aiming to take out the first ever BHP Premiership title this year after the inaugural season last year was cancelled due to COVID-19.
As dominant as the Bears have been in recent season, they still have plenty of obstacles in their way before their eyes can turn to the main prize, with a huge matchup this weekend against relative newcomers the North Queensland Gold Stars.
Match: Bears v Stars
Semi Finals -
Venue: Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane
The Stars come into this Saturday’s semi-final primed after a gusty win over West Brisbane Panthers last weekend where they didn’t have much ball, but were able to make it count when they did.
Shaniah Power put in a powerful performance and 159 metres for her side, as the experienced Pani Rupapere tackled anything that came near her with 30 tackles.
Emma Manzelmann had three line-breaks and couldn’t be contained by the Panthers all day.
Stars coach Gavin Lloyd said his side was ready to produce an even better performance this weekend and knew any lapses would be punished by a Bears outfit desperate to reassert their dominance over the competition.
“We should have lost. We didn’t have the ball, we had two in the sin bin and it shouldn’t have been a win,” Lloyd said of his side’s last round win over the Panthers.
“The last time we played the Bears in Round 6, it was a two-point loss, so we think we can get them this time and we are confident.
“We don’t read too much into the loss to Valleys, that’s going to happen sometimes, and they will be ready to fix it this week.”
Burleigh Bears v North Queensland Gold Stars
The team have been performing well across the board, but Lloyd was looking to his captain to step up to another level.
“Romy Teitzel has been great for us and she will be involved again this week,” Lloyd said.
Teitzel has seven tries from six games and six line-breaks; the Stars captain and fullback has been shining brightly.
“I think the Bears will strike back this week, they have an experienced coach and experienced players all over the field,” the Gold Stars fullback said.
“We think we fly under the radar a bit up here, for a few of the girls it’s a chance to come down and show what we can do.”
On the topic of which Bear to watch, Teitzel has eyes for one.
“Millie Boyle controls their forward momentum; she will play the full game and they will attack with Tamika Upton out the back, so that’s what we are waiting for on Saturday," Teitzel said.
For the Gold Stars, fans have a warning – beware the wounded bear.
The Bears cannot be written off despite their loss to Valleys last week, and in fact, it might make Burleigh even more dangerous.
The Bears were undefeated until they came up against the Diehards last week and it would seem foolish to put the red line through them just yet.
The first half was tight and that’s what the Bears should focus on and take the positives and figure out what happened in the second half.
The Bears will need to find the defence that only allowed 88 points in seven games during the regular season.
Boyle was great in a beaten side with 38 tackles and 156 metres with five tackles breaks, while experienced winger Karina Brown will be pivotal to the Bears getting their finals campaign back on track this week.
Brown has represented Queensland and Australia and this season, has scored four tries in five games with three try assists and four line-breaks.
“I think we played well for 60 minutes against Valleys and then Ali kicked that two points (penalty goal) and they scored three late tries,” Brown said.
“I don’t think the score indicated how close it was.
“We will get some players back this week and that will help. Tamika Upton is back and that helps us a lot.
“The Stars have a lot of quality across the field.
"Their hooker Emma Manzelmann was great last time we played. Romy Teitzel at fullback will be a danger for us too.”
Bears coach Tahnee Norris said she was ready for the finals to take place.
“Looking forward to the semi clash against the Gold Stars, they’ve played really consistent footy all the way through this competition and they have some standout players performing for them in Teitzel, Power and Manzelmann,” Norris said.
“Their kicking game has been outstanding and it’s something we really need to put pressure on Saturday.”