TRENT Leis has booked himself a fourth grand final appearance after scoring the deciding try two minutes from fulltime in Burleigh?s 24-19 preliminary final win against Redcliffe.
The son of a Redcliffe legend and a three-time grand finalist with the Dolphins, Leis stole the game from his former teammates, guilty of celebrating too soon when they took the lead 19-18 with six minutes to go.
Returning from a Shane Perry field goal in the 76th minute Redcliffe was asleep to a short kick-off, allowing the Bears to regather and work their way to the winning try.
Halfback David Hicks was on hand to throw the deciding pass for Burleigh, spiraling a cut-out pass to his right and giving Leis a clear passage to score in the corner.
A large and appreciative Pizzey Park crowd erupted at the play, sending the Bears to a third successive grand final and giving them an opportunity to defend last year?s crown.
It could very well have been an afternoon of heartbreak for the Miami club however, having led for the majority of the match before giving Redcliffe a late sniff of victory.
Indeed, when Liam Georgetown scored and converted to tie the game 18-all in the 70th minute, there was a sense the Dolphins could clinch their third sudden death victory in a row.
Perry?s arching field goal from 40m out brought instant recollections of Redcliffe?s 23-22 win to knock out Toowoomba a fortnight ago.
The leading exponent of the drop-goal in the Queensland Wizard Cup, Perry cleared a crowded advance of defenders with his kick, before a stiff coastal breeze carried it over the crossbar.
Georgetown?s earlier conversion to tie the match also snuck across by the narrowest of margins, curving and holding up to pass through the bottom-right corner of the goal.
Burleigh had the upper hand 12-2 at halftime, but lost hooker Matt Doeg with a nasty shoulder injury and had two tries disallowed in the same period.
In total video referee Tony Maksoud was called upon thrice throughout the afternoon to adjudicate on Burleigh tries, allowing two but showing the red light to a screamer by Jeremy Lateo.
Equal parts athleticism and size, 103kg Lateo caught and dropped a ball onto his foot in one motion before teammate Reggie Cressbrook scooped up the pill. Cressbrook then fought with two defenders to lob the ball out the back, leaving Lateo to wrap around, collect and sprint to the line.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Cressbrook was deemed to have been offside from the kick.
The second half saw far more penetration for Redcliffe, attacking the wing of Burleigh rookie Darius Boyd with both kicks and power running.
A successful 40-20 kick to the region brought dividends, before lock Danny Green crossed to the right of the posts in the 50th minute. Nick Emmett then caught out the rookie again, attracting two men before flicking to unmarked Phil Shilvock on his outside in the 59th minute.
Replacement forward Shannon Fish laid on Georgetown?s equalizer with a brilliant individual run, this time exploiting the leftside and darting between defenders before delivering an offload.
In the end, Redcliffe went perilously close to becoming the first team outside the top three to qualify for a grand final.
Burleigh?s date with destiny comes at 2pm at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday, pitted against the rampant North Queensland Young Guns.
North Queensland has beaten Burleigh three times this year and has not tasted defeat in its past 14 games.
In lower grades, Burleigh will also play in the Mixwell Cup decider after beating Norths 22-16. The Bears face Easts, a team they lost to by a single point in last year?s final.
Norths are set to play Wests in the Mixwell Colts Challenge finale, courtesy of a 56-16 hiding of Burleigh. BURLEIGH 24 (Reggie Cressbrook 2, Adam Hayden, Trent Leis tries; Reggie Cressbrook 3 goals) beat REDCLIFFE 19 (Danny Green, Phil Shilvock, Liam Georgetown tries; Liam Georgetown 3 goals; Shane Perry field goal).Like