For the third time this season, our Knock on Effect NSW Cup team took on a side who’s NRL team had a bye which means a strong opposition. As the red & black headed over the bridge to Coogee Oval, a great beachside venue, our run-on team changed dramatically from our Tuesday team list. Big Ben Thomas was out with a foot injury, Alfred Smalley was on suspension due to a dangerous tackle, Fletcher Baker out injured and Kieran Hayman still suspended leaving our side with no NRL full-timers going up against a team that had nine run onto that field on game day. Jarmon Wormleaton stepped up from Ron Massey to make his debut in our NSW Cup side and what an effort with two tries on debut! The impact of these changes is difficult to manage and something that all NSW Cup Coaches work with week-in-week out, the toll of it paying the price on the Bears over the last few weeks.

While the crowd settled in with the sun on their backs and a Young Henry’s Glory Haze XPA in hand, the game got underway and the red & green started strong, taking the lead within the first six minutes. The hits were hard from the get-go and Tyrone Munro from the Rabbitohs was on report for a dangerous tackle in under five minutes of game play, shortly followed by Bears prop Ben Talty having to come off with an HIA and Phillip Makatoa subbing on. The Bunnies were in again ten minutes later after finding the gap in the Bears defense. With seventeen minutes left in the first half, Bears were on the attack with some swift ball work landing in debutant Jarmon Wormleaton’s hands who grounded in the corner adding 4 points to the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the kick was waived away and the score sat at 12 – 4. Making a line break, ex-Bear, Tom Carr scores in the corner and the Bunnies convert to push the score out to 4 – 18 at the half time mark.

Although the Bunnies got the first points of the second half, thanks to a leaping intercept by Carr and a full field effort by Jacob Gagai, the Bears dominated the last 30 minutes. Wormleaton nabbed his double for the day and Ben Stevanovic converted bringing the score to 10 – 24. Moments later Bears were on the charge again as Josh Bergamin runs it in off a cut out pass from Jess Marschke, Stevanovic nails the tricky kick from sideline and the game edges closer at 18 – 24. Bears are pumped at this point and Souths are touchy that their win is under threat, a scuffle erupts after a late tackle by Souths Duncan Tallis on Ben Marschke and both players are sent to the sin bin with just over a minute left on the clock. In the end, Bears go down by one converted try. Looking at the game stats, Bears won the time in possession, completion rate, their attack was stronger on almost every line, their play the ball quicker, their passing stats sharper, their effective tackle percentage higher at a whopping 91.76% and their missed tackles fewer. Rabbitohs had nine penalties conceded to the Bears one and two players on report, and yet the game result didn’t end in our favour. That is footy.

On aggregate points, the Bears were crowned the champions of the inaugural Mario Fenech Cup and our captain Zach Dockar-Clay accepted the Cup from the great man himself. Not the way we had wanted to take out this coveted trophy but we will accept the silverware happily.

Click below to watch the game highlights >>

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