Hundreds of U6, U7 and U8 junior league players from across the North Sydney district descended upon North Sydney Oval for the annual Mini’s Grand Final Gala Day on Sunday. The sun was shining, and the smiles were big as these young players got to play on the historic field. A wonderful way to conclude the 2023 junior league season for the mini’s age group. As the kids settled on the hill with their iced donuts and meat pies, the big boys came out to play. We knew that Bears v Panthers was going to be a tough game, we haven’t beaten them since 2019, and their run-on team had solid NRL experience in the side. This game was exactly what we needed at this point in the season, a tough, gritty and defensively grinding game and that is what we got. With the minor premiership already wrapped up, it was also a good opportunity to rest some players, give more minutes to newer players and those returning from injury, test varying player combinations and ensure player qualifications are met for the final’s series.
It was near on fifteen minutes before any points went up on the scoreboard, with Bears striking first. Sam Walker puts up a good bomb that is fumbled by a Panther on the try line, an anticipating Ben Stevanovic pounces and takes the points. Walker converts and Bears lead 6 – 0. It didn’t take long for the Panthers to find their attacking force, sweeping the ball swiftly to the wing and grounding the ball in the corner, the kick is waived away. Going tit-for-tat, the red & black are next to be making ground. Walker puts through a neat grubber that bounces perfectly up for Reuben Porter to collect on his way through, Walker again converts and the Bears lead 12 – 4. Disappointingly, our hooker (#9 jersey) Jake Turpin suffers a head knock and leaves the field with an HIA and does not return to the game. Less than two minutes later, Panthers score, the kick is missed. As the scoreboard counts down to half time, Walker puts up a bomb to the corner, it bounces off a pink shirt and Alfred Smalley says thank you very much. Walker converts for the third time and the boys head to the sheds up 18 – 8.
The second half was a different ball game altogether with the Bears struggling to get possession. Much like the first half, seventeen minutes of attrition played out with neither side finding the white line. Panthers broke first this time, busting over the line while Jesse Marschke’s arms went up in plea of a forward pass that went unnoticed by the officials. This time the pussycats convert and the score tightens to 18 – 14. The red & black continue to regain possession and tire under multiple set repeats on their try line. Penalties were blown and the Bears just couldn’t seem to change momentum of the game. With only ten minutes remaining, the Bears lose their lead as the big cats take two late tries and convert both. The Bears go down 18 – 26 to the 2022 premiers in heartbreaking fashion. Having already secured our spot on the top of the ladder, our position remains unchanged, but the lessons learned from this game will add another layer to our armory in preparation for the finals. Bring on another tough clash this Sunday when we take on the Raiders, see more below!
Click the image below to watch the game highlights >>
ROUND 26: BEARS V RAIDERS
This Sunday is the last game of the regular Knock On Effect NSW Cup comp and our last home game of the 2023 season. What a year we have had so far! Our two senior men’s and women’s teams were minor premiers in their respective competitions, we have welcomed over 20,000 members and fans through the gates of North Sydney Oval (a 30% increase on the 2022 season) and this weekend we go again as we take on the green machine, Canberra Raiders. The Raiders are currently in fourth position on the ladder and need this win to ensure they make the finals series – they will be coming in hard and strong for this game. We are calling on the red and black army to come out and support your Bears, be entertained by some great footy and enjoy the magic of Bear Park. #FILLTHEHILL
The boys will also be pulling on their iconic red & black hoops Heritage Jersey for this game, in honour of all of the 2055 Bears 2023 members for our Members Round. This round is a chance for the club, and our players, to say a massive thank you to the members for their ongoing support this season. The support has been huge, from those that are near and far, we have felt the passion of our members on our social pages, on tv at NRL games, in our merchandise sales and of course at our home games at North Sydney Oval.
Greg Florimo will be hosting an historic member only tour of Bear Park (spots are limited – register below), we have a fantastic Members Only Draw running to win 1 or 5 Double Passes to the Bears Legends Lounge on the day and Fans on the Field is back at half time. PLUS, David Trodden NSWRL CEO will present the Bears KOE NSW Cup team with the Minor Premiers Shield at the end of the game. We would like to invite all Bears 2023 Members to join us on field after the presentation for a special photo with the team and shield. A huge day and one not to miss! Here come the Bears #StandAside
Check out Head Coach Jason Taylor’s team named to get the job done >>