Burleigh Bears extended their competition lead and Norths Devils fell into a dogfight for finals positions after their Hostplus Cup clash in Roma today.
The Bears won 38-10, piling on four tries in the second half in front of a large Country Week crowd at Roma’s Arthur Beetson Oval.
The Devils had started the match well, tackling with effort, to raise hopes that they could upset the Bears after falling to them 54-18 last month.
Liam Horne’s dart from dummy-half opened the scoring in the 15th minute after the Bears had enjoyed more possession but that was to be the Devils’ only try until Matthew Milson crossed with three minutes remaining.
The defending premiers made too many mistakes and Burleigh took full advantage to increase their win-loss record to 13-2.
Burleigh sits five points clear of second place while the Devils have fallen to seventh, with only one point separating teams placed sixth to 10th. Unfortunately for the Devils, their points differential is the worst of the top 11 teams, leaving them behind the pace should teams be tied.
The Devils have next weekend off before a blitz of four games in August to close the regular season.
The Bears were again clinical, making few errors and making the Devils pay with repeat sets that often brought them into attacking range.
Their first three tries were not converted, enabling the Devils to stay within six points at halftime.
But fullback Taine Tuaupiki made the most of a Devils’ error early in the second half to cross in the 43rd minute, propelling Burleigh to an 18-6 lead.
Another Devils error in the 58th minute led to Api Noema-Matenga’s try that was followed by a Josh Rogers’ penalty goal in the 68th minute that pushed the Bears 20 points clear.
Horne was again busy for the Devils in the hooking role while Broncos-contracted prop Xavier Willison returned to the starting team on a ground at which he played for the Queensland schools team two years ago alongside Reece Walsh and Brendan Piakura.
The Devils were without Brayden McGrady (concussion) and Lloyd Perrett (Covid), forcing two changes to the team that fell to the Dolphins last weekend.
After next weekend’s bye, the Devils travel to Marsden State High School to play Souths Logan while the Bears play a local derby against Tweed Seagulls at Piggabeen.
BURLEIGH BEARS 38 (Taine Tuaupiki 2, Alofiana Khan-Pereira, Tony Francis, Greg Marzhew, Api Noema-Matenga, Sam Coster tries, Josh Rogers 5 goals) bt NORTHS DEVILS 10 (Liam Horne, Matthew Milson tries, Connor Broadhurst goal) at Arthur Beetson Oval, Roma.
Photo by Alan Drinnen