Michaels magic inspires Bears win
A spectacular last-minute try to Henare Wells and a 20-point haul to towering centre Khan Ahwang has propelled Burleigh to their second win of the season, accounting for Ipswich 36-28 in their Intrust Super Cup clash at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
On the back of some inspired Matt Keating play early the Bears jumped out to a 12-0 lead midway through the first half before the Jets piled on 24 unanswered points to lead 24-12 at half-time. A try to Siuatonga Likiliki in the 52nd minute and then back-to-back four-pointers to Ahwang in the 61st and 64th minutes put the Bears back in front but it wasn't until a piece of desperation from Steve Michaels and quick reflexes from Wells that the home side clinched the two competition points in the 79th minute.
In other Round 4 matches the Northern Pride kept their unbeaten start intact and ended the streak of the PNG Hunters with a 34-18 win in PNG, Mackay ground out a gritty 12-4 win over Wynnum Manly, Redcliffe upset last year's grand finalists Easts 24-12, Beau Henry scored a try and kicked four goals in his return from an ACL injury to inspire Tweed Heads to a 32-14 win over Souths Logan and Rogan Dean scored a hat-trick as Norths Devils made it four-from-four with a 38-0 defeat of Sunshine Coast.
Leading 32-28, the Bears were pressuring the Jets line before a grubber kick into the in-goal looked set to go over the dead-ball line until Michaels intervened, batting the ball back for Wells to pounce on and send the enthusiastic home crowd into raptures.
Although they are at different stages of their careers, it was apt that two players both eyeing off a return to the NRL arena were the ones pushing until the dying stages of the match.
"I didn't even see it coming actually," Wells admitted after scoring the match-winner. "I just saw it at the last minute and surprised I was able to get it down with just one hand; pretty rapt to get a try."
It was just reward for the former Roosters under-20s player who has returned to his home on the Gold Coast with aspirations of securing an NRL contract.
Michaels is currently contracted to the Gold Coast Titans but has not been given a shot in the top grade yet in 2014 after playing the last three games of the 2013 season in the NRL.
In addition to providing the key play for the final try, Michaels took advantage of some inattentive Ipswich defence when he pounced on a ball that came loose in a tackle and raced 70 metres to score under the posts, the video referee agreeing with the on-field ruling that the ball had been knocked loose by a Jets player.
"I knew that their fullback would have been pretty keen to get a 20-metre tap so I didn't give up," Michaels said of his miracle final play. "When I saw it pop up I just stuck the hand out... Thinking about it now, the fullback could have picked it up and gone the length so it was lucky that our fullback was there."
Keating was a surprise addition for the Bears after a suspected pectoral injury suffered last weekend and wasted little time asserting his class on the game. After Burleigh conceded three penalties in the opening three minutes they were able to absorb plenty of pressure before Keating's kicking game got them deep into Jets territory.
The former Eels hooker scored the first try in the 11th minute and when Michaels pounced 10 minutes later the home side was off to a flyer. But in what has become a worrying Burleigh trait they are desperate to rectify, they switched off in the second half of the opening stanza and Ipswich made them pay with tries to Sam Martin, Tautalatasi Tasi, Matt Parcell and Troy O'Sullivan to take a 12-point lead to the break.
Although Ipswich appeared to dominate the physical exchanges for much of the game, the Bears big men came into their own in the second half with Luke Page, Kyle McConnell and Mark Ioane all standing up strong to the barrage dished out by the Jets.
After the Likiliki try got Burleigh back within reach, Ahwang turned the game on its head when he was able to get in behind the markers from a dummy-half run, skipped out of another tackle and raced 50m to score and then at the end of the next set was the beneficiary when a clearing kick ricocheted off the back of a Jets player and the Bears regathered possession.
A further penalty goal stretched the lead to 32-24 and although the Jets got back to within four with a try to Nemani Valekapa four minutes from time, Burleigh showed good composure to get down the other end and ice their second win of 2014.
Two players will come under review from the match review committee with Ipswich second-rower Rod Griffin cited for a lifting tackle and Louis Fanene put on report for striking out with his knee while standing at marker.
Burleigh Bears 36 (Khan Ahwang 2, Matt Keating, Steve Michaels, Siuatonga Likiliki, Henare Wells tries; Ahwang 6 goals) def. Ipswich Jets 28 (Sam Martin, Tautalatasi Tasi, Troy O'Sullivan, Matt Parcell, Nemani Valekapa tries; Haydan Lipp 4 goals) at Pizzey Park, Burleigh.
For all Round 4 results of the Intrust Super Cup click here.