The North Sydney Bears have put the newly-formed Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles to the sword in Round 2 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, defeating their opponents 40-20 at HE Laybutt Fields.
The Bears, who experienced one of the smallest player turnovers over the off season, performed as a cohesive unit against a Sea Eagles outfit still finding its feet in the competition. Co-captains Eli Levido and Brad Deitz led from the front, while George Burgess was hard to handle and Cameron Murray put forward a typical hard-working performance for North Sydney.
It didn't take long for the home side to build pressure, however, with a penalty followed by an accidental North Sydney play over the sideline gifting Blacktown three successive sets. The Sea Eagles crossed the stripe off the resulting scrum through Viliame Kaveinga, with a simple right-side movement bringing the game's first points. The conversion attempt from Joey Lussick was unsuccessful and Blacktown had a 4-0 lead.
The visitors looked like hitting back when Tom Burgess was held up over the line, but after 10 scoreless minutes the Bears would eventually get on the scoreboard via hooker Deitz. With Levido slotting the conversion from in front, North Sydney were up 6-4.
Almost instantly, the Sea Eagles' woes were compounded when leaders Deitz and Levido combined for a classy four-pointer up the middle. The dummy-half split the Blacktown defence for a 30-metre line-break, offloading to Levido to cross under the posts - a try he converted for a 12-4 lead.
Momentum had well and truly turned at HE Laybutt Fields and next up it was the Bears' big men time to shine; Cameron Murray first broke the Sea Eagles' defence through a strong run before Tom Burgess charged over two plays later for his side's third. Once again converted from in front, North Sydney led 18 points to four.
Eventually the Sea Eagles got another chance to spend time in an attacking position and with a nice pass from Jackson Hastings, they made the most of it; the former Rooster offloaded to bench forward Sarafu Fatiaki, who scored to reduce the deficit to eight.
The ball still looked to be in North Sydney's court and the visitors soon scored another, this time through a dangerous-looking Siosifa Talakai. Levido successfully added the extras, making the half-time score 24-10.
The second stanza didn't start in ideal fashion for the Bears, who sent the kick-off out on the full, but they managed to sustain early pressure from their opponents. In the 47th minute the North Sydney side added to their advantage with a try to Sitiveni Moceidreke, thanks to a timely in-goal offload from Tautalatasi Tasi. With that converted the scoreboard read 30-10 in favour of the Bears.
Cameron Murray was the next to get on the score sheet, with a hard, flat run from close to the try line drawing three defenders - but still resulting in points. From almost in front, Levido missed the conversion in his first major error, so scores remained 34 points to 10.
Things went from bad to worse for the Sea Eagles, kicking the ball out on the full in the resulting restart and conceding in the next set. Five-eighth Pita Godinet attempted an optimistic intercept close to his try line but failed to take it cleanly, giving the Bears a clear overlap and allowing experienced winger Ed Murphy a try in one of his first touches since taking the field. Levido added the extras from out wide for a 40-10 score line.
The Sea Eagles were having no luck and halfback Jackson Hastings appeared to set up Tyler Cassel for a try, only for the pass to be called forward. A break from Tyrell Fuimaono soon had the Bears back on the attack, but they failed to add points from that opportunity. With fatigue setting in late in the game, Godinet made the most of conditions with a 40-metre line-break and try. It left scores at 40-16.
For the third time of the afternoon, the resulting kick-off landed over the sideline and it gave the home side an opportunity to reduce the deficit. Godinet fount Matthew Wright, who found Jonathan Wright in the left corner - while the conversion attempt sailed wide, it gave the Sea Eagles a slightly more respectable 40-20 scoreline at the game's conclusion.