As the sunset on beautiful historic North Sydney Oval, the Bears kicked off against the Dragon. The night air was crisp, but the sky was clear, cold hands were warmed with cups of mulled wine and a sense of jolliness was felt by all as both Barney the Bear and Santa Clause made their way around the ground greeting fans young and old. Kids had a wonderful time making decorations and getting their face painted. A special day for all who attended our only home game under lights for the 2023 season.

We began the day with the Australian Universities NSW v QLD Interstate Championships. Well done to NSW on taking out the title! The big boys were swiftly followed by a see of local North Sydney Junior League U8 and U9 year olds who hotly contested the Greg Florimo Shield in each age group. Greg was on the side line cheerign on the junior Bears for much of the gala and had the honour to present the U8s shield to the mighty Willoughby Roos and the U9s shield to Hills Hawks. Well done to all teams that participated and we hope to see you back at Bear Park again very soon.

The main game kicked off at 5pm and the Dragons seemed to have the rub of the green from the get-go. A fumble on the try line saw the Dragons get the early points and we were off on an exciting game ahead. Not long after, Jesse Marschke puts up a bomb, Ben Stevanovic bursts forward challenging the catcher, ending up with the ball and adding the four points to the scoreboard for the red & black. Kieran Hayman easily converts from near front on and the Bears lead 6 – 4. Dragons were quick to retaliate, collecting the ball off a Bears error and running the length of the field to take the lead back 6 – 10. The tussle between these two teams continues and it’s Bears who are next moving the ball quickly towards the try line and out to the wing. The ball ends up in the hands of Fetalaiga Pauga, who has returned back to the Bears after a stint in the top league with the Sydney Roosters, and he puts on a masterclass in winger tries grounding the ball mid-air. The kick is waived away, and the score is leveled at 10 a piece. The big powerful middles of the Dragons continue to make havoc pushing their way through the Bears defence to secure another converted try only 7 minutes out from the half time hooter. Followed by two successively converted penalty goals, the opposition had the upper hand as the teams went for oranges, 10 – 20.

A revised Bears made their way on to the field for the second half, ensuring they were out first and pumped for the next 40 minutes. Big Kurt De Luis could be heard from the field reminding the players to stay focused, stay strong and give 100% no matter what. Hearts of the red & black fans sank as the Dragons stole the first points of the second half, extending their lead to 10 – 26. But at the 50th minute of the game the mighty Bears said no more! And boy did they put on a show for the fans for the last 30 minutes! Fast and strong Tui Katoa nabbed a long range try, palming Dragons as if they were blow flies and giving Hayman an easy conversion. A sense of hope was felt around the grounds. Ten minutes later, Jesse Marschke makes a break, passes to Elie El-Zakhem who trots it over. Hayman converts and the score nudges to 22 – 26. The excitement on the hill is building, we know the Bears can do this and the ground announcer calls for the crowd to cheer in support. Three minutes later and Pauga pockets his double for the game, the kick goes unconverted, and the score is leveled at 26 – 26. Both sides want to take the comp points and the last 12 minutes is a strong and relentless battle. With just over a minute left on the clock, the Bears attack the line, the ball sweeps to Katoa who drives forward, reaches out and finds the white line. The crowd goes WILD! The kick is again waived away but those four points were all we needed to secure the win and retain our position on top of the ladder. The final score 30 – 26.

Click image below to watch the game highlights >>


A big game needs a big crowd, get behind the Bears, show your support and come on down to North Sydney Oval this Sunday to cheer on the red & black as we take on the Parramatta Eels. The main game kicks off at 3pm and it’s time to FILL THE HILL! The boys have been putting in some serious effort on the field, the standard of footy on display is truly spectacular and highly entertaining. As we have said before, and will say again, no better place to be on a Sunday afternoon.

Prior to the main game, we are holding our inaugural Don McKinnon Shield U10 and U11 Gala Day. Junior league players from across the local districts have been invited to come along and challenge for the shield plus have the opportunity to play on the hallowed turf of North Sydney Oval and experience the Bears game day. The Grand Finals will be played as a curtain raiser prior to the main game. Gates open at 9.30am.

Check out Head Coach Jason Taylor’s team named to get the job done >>

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