By Robert Burgin (QRL Media)
Injury-hit Burleigh has survived a scare against Wynnum Manly, coming from 0-12 behind to emerge victorious 28-16 at BMD Kougari Oval.
With both halves and their fullback missing, and NRL-experienced Brenko Lee also out, the early competition pacesetters were looking vulnerable.
Only a week before, the Bears suffered the first loss of the season against Norths and it was worrying signs when they conceded the first two tries and gave up a penalty inside 36 minutes.
Burleigh’s strength was in persevering and they turned the game with attention to ball control, hard running around the ruck and sustaining pressure and territory.
Three of their first four tries were by forwards and the other two featured pivotal lead-up work by forwards on the edge.
It wasn’t a flashy performance but it will have competitors worried that the Bears could still win comfortably without three of their four key playmakers.
Hooker Pat Politoni was named the Hastings Deering Man of the Match for a clever game marshalling his troops and dissecting the Seagulls around the play-the-ball.
For Wynnum there will be concern after they gave up another promising lead, a similar script to earlier losses against Redcliffe and Tweed Heads.
Seagulls half Michael Dobson cut a frustrated figure on the field as he struggled with his handling, while his monster pack was edged by their more experienced opposites.
Plenty of attention was on boom Broncos youngster Payne Haas and he played the first 30 minutes and the last 25 of the game, proving a handful but unable to swing the result.
With just two wins from their first seven games, the star-studded Wynnum side is in danger of losing touch with the league leaders.
Next week Wynnum is away to the Central Queensland Capras on Saturday, while Burleigh hosts PNG at Pizzey Park on the Sunday.
Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan said after the match that looming games with the Hunters and Townsville Blackhawks would give a clearer indication of his side’s title claims.