The North Sydney Bears halves pairing have steered them to an important 36-22 victory at North Sydney Oval.
Connor Tracey scored two tries and set up a further two in a sublime performance, while Hawkins repeatedly took the ball to the line and set up a brace of tries himself in what was a dominant day out for North Sydney. Kyle Turner also had a big day out for the Bears, saving a try with a wonderful tackle and also crossing for a double.
The Bears had the majority of good ball to start the game, but a penalty to Wyong on halfway put them on the front foot which led to the first points of the match. On second tackle after the penalty, Brock Gray ran onto a Mitch Cornish short ball, and Luke Sharpe as usual was backing up to stroll over underneath the posts.
An incredibly strong effort from one of the smaller players on the field locked the scores up at 6-all for the Bears. Connor Tracey slipped past Lachlan Lam who managed to hold on, but despite two of his Wyong teammates helping to get him down, the Bears’ five-eighth muscled his way to the try line and somehow planted the ball down.
Kyle Turner made a try-saving tackle in the 30th minute when some great vision from Cornish out of dummy-half gave Paul Momirovski an opportunity – but he dropped the ball as he reached out for the line, thanks to a good tackle by the 2014 premiership winner.
Tracey was instrumental in the next try when he put a grubber in that forced a drop-out to give his side the next opportunity. He then took the ball to the line on the ensuing set, drew the defender and put Dean Britt through a huge hole, who went over untouched to take a 12-6 lead into half-time.
Tracey picked up where he left off after a dominant first half when a set play with his halves partner got him his second try of the afternoon. Dean Hawkins forced a drop-out which gave the Bears an opportunity, before he took the ball to the line on the next set and put a kick in for Tracey. The five-eighth knew what was coming, charged through and easily won the race for the ball.
A penalty in front of the posts gave the Bears an important 14-point lead, and Wyong simply needed to be next to score.
They did exactly that thanks to some Mitch Cornish brilliance, who threw a pass which any judge would score a 10 out of 10 – straight onto the chest of Matt Ikuvalu, who reduced the deficit to 20-10 after the kick was missed.
The Bears’ halves taking the ball to the line seemed to be the theme of the match and it certainly worked in their favour, as Hawkins put in a perfect grubber in the last available millisecond, for Turner to pounce on a well-deserved try.
North Sydney sealed the game thanks to one of the slickest tries of the season when Tracey, Hawkins, Viliami Kaveinga and Tyrell Fuimaiono all linked up for four of the quickest string passes you’ll see. It was Fuimaiono’s ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ final pass to Mawene Hiroti that was the most impressive, allowing his winger to score in the corner to take the score to 30-10.
Lam and Butcher combined for a ‘meat pie’ after a short kick-off was regathered by the Wyong Roos, as the crafty half threw a brilliant short ball to his forward who ran a perfect line to stroll over, before a Lam show-and-go saw him score almost immediately afterwards for back-to-back tries.
Tracey put Kyle Turner over for a try to finish the game, which blew the score out to 36-22 to keep the Bears’ season alive.