Match Report – Bears Triumph in War at Belmore

Eli Levido in attack - Intrust Super Premiership | Round 6 | Canterbury-Bankstown Vs North Sydney | Belmore Sports Ground | 8/04/2017. Photo Steve Little www.redandblackzone.com.

The North Sydney Bears emerge on top 8 points to 6 in a gruelling arm wrestle, earning a hard fought 5th win from their six games of NSW Intrust Super Cup competition.

The Big Black Bears are back in the winner’s circle. After a disappointing loss in miserable conditions last round, the Bears travelled to a sun-drenched Belmore with a point to prove as they took on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Receiving possession from the kick off the Bears were quick to get into their sets. The team looked particularly focused on execution, spending the majority of the opening minutes down in the Dogs half.

It didn’t take long for the home team to hit back, knocking on the door of the Bears try line with set after set. The Bears resisted the barrage as the Bulldogs pressed for the line, it took a magnificent try-saving tackle in the 25th minute by Tyrell Fuimaono to stop the Dogs.

It was clear that both teams weren’t giving yardage away easily. The Bears found success in taking it up the middle of the defence. Forwards Cheyne Whitelaw and Robert “The Rock” Rochow chewed up metres with mobile and powerful runs. Rochow also made his impact felt with a huge hit on unsuspecting Canterbury half Lewis.

In the 28th minute pressure off a bomb by Tautalatasi Tasi and Fuimaono, forced a drop ball 20m out from the Bulldogs line and gave the Bears a sniff. Similarly, on the 30th minute, the Bears gained a penalty 40 out yet were unable to get over the line again.

The half yielded very little give from either side with few turnovers and strong defence. On the siren, the Bulldogs were able to sneak a try in with the Bears down to 12 players, with injured Cheyne Whitelaw unable to get back in the defensive line in time. Prop Francis Tualau found Renouf To’Omaga on the inside to set up a try under posts. It was converted putting the Dogs up 6-0 at the half.

The second half got off to a less than ideal start for Norths with the ball sailing into touch on the kickoff. As both sides settled back into the game, it was clear the game was going to be won through defence and grit.

It took until the 58th minute from a seemingly nothing play for the Bears to score. On the half way, an Ed Murphy offload to Latrell Robinson saw the fullback dance his way through the Bulldogs defence before throwing a perfect draw and pass putting halfback Eli Levido over for the points. Levido then converted the try to even the scores up 6-6.

Both teams were running on empty as the game headed into the final 20 minutes of the game. Norths coughed the ball up an increasing amount of times while the Bulldogs forwards began to slow down.

The gridlock looked set to break with 10 minutes remaining as Norths put on one last offensive, pinning down the Dogs off a bomb and a minute later forcing a knock on, then conceding a penalty. This gave the Bears a piggyback into attacking territory.

Finally, on the Bulldogs line, a penalty call just left of the sticks gave halfback Levido a chance put the Bears in front with 7 minutes remaining. The kick was a success, Bears up 8-6. The medics had a defibrillator on standby as we entered heart attack hill, the final 5 minutes. The Bears put forward a solid set off the kickoff yet had the last tackle kick charged down.

The following possession saw the Bulldogs gain a penalty as the clock read 4 minutes. A fortunate drop ball from Bulldog Francis Tualau provided a huge sigh of relief for Bears fans.

Yet one final heart-stopping moment followed with only 3 minutes on the clock. As the blue and white charged for one last time at the line, a grubber in behind the defensive line saw veteran centre Ed Murphy single-handedly saving the two points for the Bears as he fielded the kick just before the Bulldogs could jump on it. The Bears held possession and ran the clock out.

The final score 8-6. A truly hard fought game and was a great exhibition of the quality of NSW Intrust Super Cup footy.

Post game Bears coach Ben Gardner highlighted the team’s defence as a particularly strong point in the win, as well as singling out the team’s veterans for leading the boys through the battle.

Next week is a special one for the boys in red and black. Coming home to North Sydney Oval for a Thursday night classic against the Wyong Roos, kicking off at 6:30 pm.

NORTH SYDNEY BEARS 8 (try: Eli Levido, conversion: Eli Levido, penalty: Eli Levido),
def CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS 6 (try: Renouf Toomaga, conversion: Rhyse Martin).

1 Latrell Robinson
2 Dane Nielsen
3 Edward Murphy
4 Tyrell Fuimaono
5 Sitiveni Moceidreke
6 Luke Kelly
7 Eli Levido
18 Anthony Cherrington
9 Bradley Deitz (C)
10 Dave Tyrrell
11 Cameron Murray
12 Cheyne Whitelaw
13 Robbie Rochow

8 Toby Rudolf
15 Clayton Williams
16 Jamel Hunt
17 Tautalatasi Tasi