The I Luv Coffee Burleigh Bears have moved into a share of the competition lead with a 38-32 victory over Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park.
Yesterday’s win, which was their third in a row and their fifth of the season, draws them level with Townsville and PNG six weeks into the competition.
It was a win the Bears had to earn, as Souths Logan gave them a fight until the 80th minute, but the Bears found a way to win.
After jumping to a big lead in the first half, the Bears lost their way in the second as the Magpies clawed their way to the lead.
But the Bears, led by skipper Jamal Fogarty who produced two brilliant solo tries, showed plenty of spirit to regain their composure and earn the two competition points.
“We gave over a lot of ball early in the second half,” Bears coach Jim Lenihan said of the performance.
“We found it hard to get to the end of our sets, get to kicks and put them under pressure.
“We didn’t help ourselves with any ball control, but at the end of the day we found a way to win, which we probably struggled to do in previous years.
“If there is a positive to come out of it today, I don’t think we could have played much worse and still found a way to win and I think Souths is a really good football side.”
Burleigh couldn’t have started the game any better as Nathan Davis crossed twice inside the opening 10 minutes to make it 10-0.
But Souths were never going to roll over on their home turf and in the 18th minute, Andrew Edwards strolled through a big hole to score under the posts for the home team.
Momentum however was still with the Bears as Oliver Reagan and Josh Ailaomai both scored shortly after.
An important moment came on the stroke of halftime, as Souths scored against the run of play through Daniel Tamou cutting the margin to 22-10 at the break.
Suddenly the Magpies had a sniff, and just two minutes after the break Sam Scarlett produced a lovely chip kick which sat up perfectly for Luke Archer.
With the home side on a role, it was Jamal Fogarty who stepped up and gave the Bears some breathing space.
In the 46th minute he chipped ahead, regathered, put in a grubber kick, won the race to the ball and scored out wide in a tremendous individual effort.
That try gave the bears some space, but the Magpies were still full of running and when Caleb Timu stormed over from close range the margin was cut back to just four.
Burleigh felt the pressure with 20 minutes to go as they pushed an unnecessary offload which was swooped on by Marion Seve.
Seve raced away to score under the posts and give Souths the lead as the home crowd roared.
With their backs against the wall and all the momentum with the Magpies, Burleigh had to find a way to dig deep and get back in front.
They did it in the 70th minute when some beautiful quick hands from Jamie Dowling and Tyler Chadburn put Kurtis Rowe over with a well-executed set play.
Five minutes later it was Fogarty again who put the game to bed with a smart kick and chase which gave him his second try of the day.
Jamayne Isaako scored a consolation try on the buzzer, but the Bears had done enough to hang on to a crucial win.
Lenihan was full of praise for his halfback and captain after the game and credited his two-tries as being instrumental in the win.
“Jamal probably carried us on his back today with a couple of individual efforts when we needed it,” he said.
“The two tries we got from him when momentum was probably against us certainly put us in a position to win the game again.
“We needed it today and I don’t think we were going to get it from anywhere else.”