The Burleigh Bears put in arguably their best performance of the season to defeat heavy competitions favourites Sunshine Coast Falcons last weekend to knock them out in a grand final qualifier.
After their dominant display against a side that broke all records this season, the question now on the lips of rugby league fans is – can they back that up against Wynnum Manly?
The Bears know about this stage of the season well having claimed the Intrust Super Cup title in 2016; and if they do happen to repeat that success on Sunday in the decider at Dolphin Stadium; the side will also be hoping to go one better to claim national honours on NRL grand final day.
Speaking at a combined media event at Redcliffe Jetty to promote the decider being played at the peninsular, Bears skipper Luke Page was full of belief in the ability of his team.
“(The win over the Falcons) was outstanding – obviously, they were the pinnacle of the competition, so to knock them out in the major semi to get to the grand final is unbelievable,” Page said.
“I think (for) our boys – that was pretty much the best we played all year, so our boys have to back it up on Sunday.
“That is the challenge, being consistent in the finals is massive, but I have confidence in our boys.
“Our two halves Jamal (Fogarty) and (Dylan) Phythian in there, myself in the middle and I will try and do my best to motivate the boys and the backs will do their thing to make it all look pretty; that’s pretty much it.
“Obviously, the better team on the day is going to win and Burleigh and us boys are going to give it a red-hot crack."
One of the keys to success for the Bears so far this year has been their coach Jim Lenihan who spoke before the preliminary final game about establishing a club legacy.
A former player at the club who is in his second stint of coaching the maroon-and-whites; Lenihan has made a big impression on his players.
Page said however that while his coach has a reputation for being a fiery personality, he was calm presence before the Falcons game.
“He came in and did a little speech before we ran out and he said ‘boys, just enjoy the occasion, we are here for a reason, do what you do best and if we win, we win and if not – well, that’s footy!’
“But the boys really got up for the occasion and Jimmy is a really big part of why we are a big core group and why we want to play for him, definitely be on this weekend.”
Another player who is part of that “core group” who have helped build up Burleigh into the strong-performing club they are at the moment is Pat Politoni who was on song in his side’s win over the Falcons.
Speaking directly after the win, the decorated and experienced rake said his side would be ready to back up their performance against the Seagulls and would be counting on the experience of the players who had been placed on this stage before.
“We’ll be ready, we will celebrate here and then go back to the drawing board on Monday,” Politoni said.
“Obviously, we played them (Wynnum Manly) in the first week and we were fortunate to get the win, but it’s going to be a lot tougher, it’s a different game every time we play them.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but I know we’ll be up for it.
“Experience – you can’t buy experience and you saw that today.
“The Sunny Coast had an awesome team and they were the best side by far all year, but I think the same guys we had in 2016, there’s five or six of us (who played), and I think that experience played a big part in today’s win.”
Match: WM Seagulls v Bears
Grand Final -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
- Nine Network
The coach himself said he would be aiming to get his team to refocus quickly after the high of earning their grand final berth.
"Last week is something that can give us confidence moving forward, but just as much as a really poor game shouldn't really affect your next game, such as a good game shouldn't either,” Lenihan said.
“In most ways, we've pretty much got to flush last week's performance ... move over it, get over it mentally and work on the here-and-now that's coming up this week."