The Mackay Cutters were unable to extend their Intrust Super Cup winning streak to four matches on Saturday night, losing 28-20 against the Burleigh Bears at Stadium Mackay to remain six points away from the top five.
Back from his NRL debut with the North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra a week earlier, Zac Santo made an almost instant impact for the Cutters, crossing for the game’s opening try after five minutes.
However, the Bears were the dominant force for the rest of the half, racing to a 22-6 lead after 28 minutes before going into half time with a 12-point lead.
A try from dummy-half by Doug Hewitt not long after the restart gave the reigning premiers’ supporters reason to believe a come-from-behind victory was possible, and when Justin Tavae scored in the corner, it really was game on with Burleigh only leading by two.
The key moment came with 10 to go when the Bears’ Tyler Chadburn scored following a charge down, the conversion from near the posts extending their advantage to more than a converted try.
The loss leaves Mackay in 10th place on the ladder ahead of a crucial round 20 home meeting with Souths Logan on Saturday night, while the Cowboys’ other ISC affiliate Northern Pride, well rested after a bye and well clear at the top of the table, will play Norths at Barlow Park in Cairns on Sunday afternoon.