By Andrew Stark
The North Sydney Bears kicked off the new season with a resounding 34-6 victory over their northern neighbours Wyong in an often scrappy affair at the Morry Breen Field.
The home side began the contest full of running and despite falling behind had managed to stay in touch with Wayne Lambkin’s grizzlies up until the hour mark.
As the late afternoon shadows lengthened however the Wyong resolve grew weary and the Bears were able to cross for four unanswered tries in the final 17 minutes.
The Roos were boosted by the late inclusion of their dynamic dummy half and skipper Mitch Williams and the opening handful of minutes were dominated by green and gold endeavour.
Magnus Stromquist went within a bee’s breathe of touching down for Wyong as he bustled his way toward the up rights but the well drilled Norths defence held firm. And then, having weathered the early storm, the Bears did some attacking of their own and crossed for the game’s opening try on the quarter hour when a crisply delivered inside ball from Canberra recruit Jordan Worboys found the fast moving Kane Morgan who speared into the open before drawing and passing to Joel Reddy for the try.
Norths were in again four minutes later when Kirisome Auva’a raced over after a left side rush and in the twinkling of an eye the early Wyong vim appeared to have drained away. To their credit however the Central Coast men hung tough and got quickly back into the arm wrestle.
They were rewarded seven minutes before the break when big Inoke Vunipola speared in under the southern sticks and with former Bear, Darren ‘Dezzie’ Nicholls adding the extras it was 10-6 to the visitors.
Wyong went oh so close to levelling up in the final minutes of the half when rangy winger Kyle MacGregor dived for the Leagues Club corner but was crashed over the sideline by desperate last line defence. And then to rub salt into Wyong’s near miss, the Bears marched up field to nab a try of their own with just 25 seconds on the clock. Matt Hyland, Jordan Worboys, Jesse Roberts and Joel Reddy combined to put Italian International Chris Centrone into the right corner and the Red and Black’s took a healthy 14-6 advantage into oranges.
Sadly for the VB NSW Cup fans in attendance, the first twenty minutes of the second half was a period littered by handling mistakes and dumb penalties, the later born largely out of frustration.
Big Curtis Johnston upped the ante in the 52nd minute pushing Norths lead out to twelve when he finished off a quick hands spread to the left. And with converted hooker Apisai Koroisau controlling the left side of the ruck like a seasoned number seven, the Bears continued to fling the pill wide, attacking with great success down the eastern edge. Further tries to Auva’a (63rd & 71st minutes) and Kane Morgan (76th minute) rounded out the scoring as the Bears racked up seven backline tries for the afternoon.
The Bears will have the weekend off thanks to the bye this round while the Roos will need to dust themselves off as the Panthers will be heading up to Morry Breen on Saturday night.
North Sydney Bears 34 (K Auva’a 3, J Reddy, C Centrone, C Johnston, K Morgan tries; A Koroisau 3 goals) def. Wyong Roos 6 (I Vunipola tries; D Nicholls goal) at Morry Breen Oval.