A double to Josh Addo-Carr - including a jaw-dropping effort late in the game - has highlighted a low-scoring affair at North Sydney Oval, as the Wests Tigers have overcome the North Sydney Bears 14-6 to earn two valuable competition points.
Both sides entered this clash with a raft of late changes and it set up for an intriguing contest. Tigers key men Justin Hunt, Jack Littlejohn and Jackson Williams were all late withdrawals and were replaced by Jayden Wheelhouse, Veiru Mapesone and Bayley Sironen respectively. For the Bears, Tulsa Saumamao was omitted along with Jokatama Dokinavalu and Angus Chricton from the North Sydney Bench, replaced by Devon Makaore-Boyce at fullback, Brett Greunke and the returning Jack Gosiewski in the second row.
It was the visitors who would cross first, with a try to the returning Addo-Carr coming in the 13th minute. The left-side winger, who has mostly impressed in his five-games at the top level, was the beneficiary off a well-executed movement to his edge early, finishing it with a classy put-down. With the conversion missed from the sideline, the Tigers kept a four-point lead early on.
The game then entered into what can only be described as a dour contest, with both sides giving up possession at key times on their opposition's tryline. Both sides, to their credit, were bruising in defence and ensured the scoreline remained 4-0 until the half-time break.
Two reinvigorated sides appeared to come out of the sheds in the second stanza and Tigers custodian Watson Heleta managed to turn defence into attack when he made picked up a Bears' dropped ball just metres out from his own line. He was pulled down 60 metres downfield, but the visitors were unable to make the most of their momentum.
More points finally came 10 minutes later when a right-side play finally paid dividends for the Wests Tigers; the ball passed through five sets of hands to find Wheelhouse, who crossed in the corner. Once again the conversion missed and the Tigers led 8-0.
The game had opened up with visibly quicker play-the-balls and lateral movement, and soon enough Latrell Schaumkel used it to his advantage. The usual fullback, who had been shifted to the left wing, combined with Ed Murphy for a 50-metre break, before the ball was shifted to the opposite side the following play. Gosiewski broke through a scrambling Tigers defence to score under the posts, with the Eli Levido conversion bringing the score to 8-6.
Schaumkel made another break off the ensuing kick-off, almost returning it to the 50-metre line, leaving no doubt that momentum was with the home side.
In the 73rd minute, however, Addo-Carr again impressed to score completely against the run of play. Taking a bomb on his own 20-metre line, the speedster broke one tackle and bamboozled the defence step and dance his way to the tryline basically untouched; while he progressed 80 metres downfield in the effort, he would have run at least 100 and still had the pace to finish off a fantastic effort.
Mapesone slotted the conversion from out wide and the visitors reached a 14-6 advantage. Despite the Bears regathering the following kick-off, the score would remain that way with the Tigers securing an important win.