North Sydney Bears claimed their third win of the season, defeating a poor Newcastle Knights outfit 24-10 in a brutal encounter at TG Milner Oval.
It was an error fuelled game with a great amount of ill-discipline and mistakes from both teams, but it was the outstanding goal-line defence late in the game for North Sydney proving to be the difference after nearly allowing Newcastle back into the game.
Tautalatasi Tasi was a shining light for North Sydney, crossing for three tries alongside his strong carries, while Cheyne Whitelaw provided some great defensive efforts whilst also proving to be dominant with the ball in hand.
A poor opening five minutes from Newcastle saw North Sydney have a host of opportunities to grab their first try of the afternoon, repeated errors in the Knights’ 20-metre zone saw them fail to capitalise on some valuable field position.
A quick burst down the short side saw Tasi claimed North Sydney’s first try of the afternoon, courtesy of some quick hands from fullback Sitiveni Moceidreke allowed him to score in the corner. Eli Levido converted from the sideline to make the score 6-0 after 10 minutes.
Some resilient defence from Clayton Williams and Paul Carter continued to put Newcastle under pressure, forcing a great amount of errors in the opening quarter of the game. The Bears were no better however, continuing to drop the ball whilst coming out of trouble.
A great amount of ill discipline from Newcastle offered North Sydney some much needed field position as they attempted to grab their second try of the afternoon. Bears back-rower Jack Gosiewski tried to spark his team, putting in a great individual effort barging his way through some poor Newcastle defence, only for the referee to rule that he had knocked the ball on over the line.
It took Newcastle 25 minutes to finally crack North Sydney’s line, with a well executed back line movement and great hands by Jaelen Feeney saw Mao Uta cross in the left hand corner drew the game level at 6-all.
The Bears soon claimed back the lead after repeated offloads on the Knights’ line eventuated to an outstanding effort from Tasi, which again saw him crash his way over in the corner - somehow putting the ball down just before being tackled into touch by the scrambling Newcastle defence. Levido failed to convert from the sideline, keeping their lead to just 4 points heading into halftime.
Newcastle managed to get their revenge just before the end of an error riddled first half from both teams, with Lachlan Fitzgibbon fighting his way over in the corner thanks to some powerful carries from Uiti Baker and Michael Steele.
Nothing seemed to change in the early stages of the first half, with an early penalty from Newcastle allowing North Sydney to march down the field straight off the kick off. The Bears took full advantage of the Knights ill-discipline, with a classy backline movement allowed for Siosafa Talakai to earn himself a try and extend their lead to six points just after half time.
Some outstanding scrambling goal-line defence from both sides proved to be the difference in the first 20 minutes of the second half, unable to break each other’s line despite both teams earning themselves some valuable field position. North Sydney were soon gifted a penalty 30-metres out from the Knights’ line, with Levido taking full advantage and slotting a penalty goal to extend their lead to eight points after 60 minutes.
It didn’t take long for North Sydney to gain a further strangle hold on the game, with a smooth shift from left-to-right and class touch by captain Ed Murphy allowed Tasi to grab his hat-trick for the afternoon, extending the Bears’ lead to two converted tries heading into the final 10 minutes.
North Sydney continued with their poor discipline in the ruck, constantly inviting Newcastle back into the game with a host of penalties in the final 10 minutes, with Brad Dietz the first being sent to the bin after giving away repeated penalties.
A late penalty goal by Levido added more salt to the wounds of Newcastle, with the Bears finally running out 24-10 winners to claim their third win of the season.