The North Sydney Bears continue their exceptional run towards the Finals with a convincing 32-22 victory over the New Zealand Warriors.
The victory for the Bears means they move deeper inside the top eight at the completion of round 22, while the Warriors’ minor premiership hopes took a significant blow.
Kirisome Auva’a and Cody Walker set the tone early for the Bears, bagging two tries each, before an inspirational defensive performance in the final quarter of the game denied the Warriors any chance at a comeback.
The Warriors received a penalty 20 metres out in the fifth minute of the game, and David Bhana took full advantage of the early gifted field position as he darted over from dummy half to open the scores.
The Warriors missed out on a valuable opportunity to score back-to-back tries but couldn’t take advantage of a three-on-one overlap on the left edge with the final pass travelling into touch.
A Cody Walker bomb off the back of that costly error resulted in a six-again call that the Bears capitalised on with Ed Murphy shooting out of dummy half and passing to Joel Reddy, who strolled over to lock up the scores at 4-all.
The Bears marched up field off the kickoff and Walker threw a picture-perfect pass to Latrell Schaumkel. Schaumkel caught the ball on the outside of his defender, for the two-on-one overlap and provided the try to Auva’a who was lingering in support.
The Warriors’ defence was in allsorts, conceding three linebreaks in the space of four minutes, with only some outstanding cover defence denying Auva’a his second try in the 19th minute.
Jack Gosiewski burst through the line shortly afterwards, before Walker picked the ball up out of dummy half a few tackles later and spun through various defenders on his way to the try line to increase their lead to 16-4.
Konrad Hurrell powerfully stamped his authority on the game 10 minutes from halftime after dominating some Bears defenders close to the try line to score.
Auva’a then beat two defenders and scored for the Bears to take a 22-10 lead on the stroke of halftime after some incredible work from Darren Nicholls who threw a perfect offload for the try.
The Bears scored before the Warriors touched the ball in the second half after Walker dummied left and broke through the defence to complete his double.
The Warriors responded as Sam Rapira barged over from inclose to score.
A fifth-tackle penalty conceded by the Warriors allowed Ed Murphy to capitalise as he pushed through some Warriors defenders and planted the ball down with one hand to extend their lead to 32-16.
The Warriors dominated the following 20 minutes with plenty of attack in Bears territory but inspirational North Sydney goal line defence simply refused to crack.
The visitors crossed with seven minutes to play, as Tomas Aoake scored to reduce the deficit to 10, but the Warriors missed their opportunity to grab sole position in first place.
North Sydney Bears 32 (K Auva'a 2, C Walker 2, J Reddy, E Murphy tries; D Nicholls 4 goals) bt Warriors 22 (D Bhana, K Hurrell, S Rapira, T Aoake tries; M Lino 3 goals) at North Sydney Oval.