North Sydney Bears 18 | Western Suburbs Magpies 6
Bears tries: John Tuivaiti, Bernard Lewis, Egan Butcher
Bears Conversions: Brock Lamb 2/3
Bears Penalty Goals: Brock Lamb 1/1
Magpies Tries: Soni Luke
Magpies Conversions: Paul Momirovski
The North Sydney Bears have bounced back from a thumping loss last week with a gritty 18-6 victory in the first round of the Jason Taylor Cup over the Western Suburbs Magpies at North Sydney Oval on Sunday.
They well and truly put their lacklustre Round 7 performance behind them as they welcomed Lachlan Lam back into the side – helping orchestrate a relentless first-half performance alongside halves partner Brock Lamb.
The Bears raced in three unanswered tries while matching their efforts with some committed goal-line performance, although the Magpies threatened at stages and were denied two tries in the opening 40 minutes.
Western Suburbs responded with an early try in the second-half but their remaining efforts were to no avail as the victory cemented second place on the competition ladder for the foundation club.
It was the Bears who got off to a flying start when John Tuivatai stormed onto a deft Lamb pass in just the third minute of play to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Magpies then had multiple chances to earn a quick reprieve but handling errors in the short burst of torrential Sydney rain proved costly.
They were made to rue their mistakes in their countless attacking raids as the Bears extended the lead off the back of some Lam magic.
The classy no.6 skipped across field and found open space down the left-hand touchline before placing a pinpoint kick back on the inside as Bernard Lewis won the race to the ball for back-to-back tries.
Lamb was unable to convert from the sideline as the Bears held onto a handy 10-0 advantage after 12 minutes.
Magpies captain Kauri Aupouri-Puketapu took it upon himself to spark his side when he poked his way through twice in the same set of six, although was denied a try on the second occasion due to interference in the lead-up.
Their missed opportunity would again haunt them when Egan Butcher marked his Canterbury Cup NSW debut with a powerful try just five minutes before half-time as the Bears eventually took their 16-0 lead into the break.
Neither side were able to break the deadlock throughout the early exchanges of the second-half although momentum shifted when the Magpies forced a goal-line drop-out after some exciting second-phase play.
They finally found a breakthrough on the ensuing set as Soni Luke darted his way over from dummy-half for his sides maiden try of the afternoon.
A tug-of-war battle followed as the Magpies were desperate for a crucial try as the full-time siren neared, although it was the Bears who looked to have iced the victory only for Asu Kepaoa to be denied due to a forward pass.
A Lamb penalty goal with just four minutes remaining sealed an impressive win for the Bears ahead of the Round 9 bye weekend.