By Kevin Braysher
THE Burleigh Bears survived a late comeback to defeat the North’s Devils 24-22 at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
With players and many spectators dressed in pink for the Bear’s annual Pink Day, both teams delivered a spectacle worthy of the big day.
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As they had done against the Northern Pride and Redcliffe Dolphins in their previous outings, the Bears jumped to a half time lead but this time they held on to record a much needed victory.
“We’ve been threatening to do it for the last couple of weeks,” Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan said.
“We had spoken about how in the last couple of weeks we’ve been ahead at half time and then got nailed at the end of the game.
“Today we teetered on the edge a little bit but we found the courage and the defence to hold out and I was really happy.
“We’ve knocked over a top three side and if we can keep building and keep in the right direction we’ll win more games than we’ll lose in the back end of the year.”
The game started evenly with both sides trading tries in the opening stages.
North’s struck first through winger Kieran English in the 5th minute with Burleigh hitting back through skipper Darren Griffiths five minutes later.
The Bears took the lead for the first time when Nafe Seluini made a long break through the middle of the field and found Henare Wells in support for the try.
North’s drew level soon after with Chris Faust scoring off a Darren Nicholls grubber kick, but the Devils struggled to build any pressure on the back of some dreadful handling.
Burleigh punished their mistakes and it was Henare Wells who managed to do the damage.
The fullback scored two times before the break to take his personal tally to three for the day and give Burleigh 12-point lead at half time.
While Burleigh had the momentum at the break, North’s were still close enough to make a challenge and in the second half their handling improved and as a result they were able to build plenty of pressure.
Kieran English scored his second try 10 minutes after the break to bring the Devils within a converted try.
The Devils forced dropouts, had repeated sets and threw plenty of attack at the Bears defence.
The desperate Bears kept turning up but they cracked with two minutes to go when Zach Koitka went over out wide.
Darren Nicholls’ conversion attempt would have levelled the scores, but it was waved away and the Bears held on to the win.
In addition to three tries Henare Wells also came up with a try-saving defensive play late in the game which saw him earn XXXX Man of the Match honours.
“Scoring three tries was wonderful but the one he saved at the end was just an amazing effort,” Lenihan said of his fullback.
“He’s working hard and has done the right thing by us and played well today.”
Lenihan also praised the performance of halfback Ryley Jacks and debutant five-eighth Connor Toia.
Earlier in the day the Bears Colts moved to four points clear at the top of the ladder by defeating North’s 23-12.