An Eli Levido field goal on the full-time siren handed the North Sydney Bears a dramatic 23-22 victory, against their archrivals, the Manly Sea Eagles, at North Sydney Oval.
It was an game that saw next to nothing happen in the opening 50 minutes, but that all changed with Tom Hughes scoring one of the tries of the year, followed by the teams going try-to-try until the clutch field-goal at the end of the match.
The Bears completely dominated the battle of field position in the early stages of the game, and were rewarded with a try to Abbas Miski, who finished off a beautiful set piece off the scrum.
A wonderful ball by Eli Levido towards the opposite sideline created an opportunity for Tevita Coterell, who made no mistake in planting the ball down and increasing their lead to 10-0.
The Sea Eagles notched up their first try of the game early in the second half when James Tuitahi made a dart down the right sideline, threw a hail-mary pass that hit the turf and was scooped up by a runaway Ben Fritz, who evaded various defenders to find the line.
In what could be described as a relatively dour opening 50 minutes to the game, Bears’ winger Tom Hughes put the North Sydney locals on the feet with a marvellous effort. As he charged for the corner, he spectacularly jumped, twisted and turned; somehow planting the ball in the process and increasing their lead to 16-6.
Dylan Kelly put his mark on the match by bursting through the line shortly afterwards, then passing the ball for an unmarked Harlan Collins to run away and score.
It seemed that Hughes had done it again in the 60th minute, but lighting never strikes twice in the same spot, with the touch judge ruling him to have stepped out in the process of scoring.
Almost immediately afterwards, the Sea Eagles marched up-field with the assistance of a penalty, and it was Fritz’s turn to athletically dive in the corner to score an incredible try.
Hugh Pratt’s sideline conversion was good, which meant the Sea Eagles led for the first time in the match 18-16.
That lead was short-lived however, as the Bears gained field position thanks to a Liam Knight error, only for interchange forward Eden Syme to barge his way through a hole to score.
Back-to-back penalties gave the Sea Eagles another chance to score, and that is exactly what they did through Collins, who showed tremendous strength to score his second try and lock the scores up at 22-all.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Eli Levido lined up for a field goal, and with the sound of the siren in the background, he snapped the 35-metre victory-clinching point, handing the Bears a dramatic victory.