Defence has won the North Sydney Bears their fifth game of the season this afternoon, grinding out an 8-6 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs at Belmore Sports Ground.
If there was a game where both sides deserved competition points, this was it, as absolutely everything each player had was left on the field, with individuals dropping to the ground after the full-time buzzer in exhaustion.
Both sides were defensively on-song having only conceded one try each, but it was the Bears’ goal-line defence that stood out, consistently defusing the Bulldogs attack no matter how much was thrown in their face for the entire contest.
The first major defensive play came from Tyrell Fuimaono, who saved a try when Lachlan Lewis through a wonderful ball for Reimis Smith with nobody in front of him, but the former Eel bundled him into touch.
Desperate Bulldogs scrambling defence prevented the Bears opening chance when Tautalatasi Tasi broke the line but couldn’t find support, before Eli Levido’s grubber a few tackles later went straight into touch.
Fuimaono threatened to post first points when he made a break from inside his own half, but a ‘once in a lifetime’ error came at the wrong time when he knocked the ball on with no defenders on him.
With less than three minutes remaining in the half, the Bulldogs opened the scoring when Francis Tualau put Renouf To’omaga through a hole, who beat Latrell Robinson at fullback to score adjacent to the posts.
Meanwhile, Cheyne Whitelaw had to be taken off the field during the conversion for a head injury assessment, while Lachlan Lewis was taken off at the back-end of the half with a suspected rib injury.
The second half began with North Sydney kicking out on the full but their defence held strong, before Jeremiah Leasi pulled off a brilliant try-saving tackle to prevent the Bears posting their first points.
After defending another two sets on their line, North Sydney finally got on the scoreboard thanks to an exciting passage of play that saw Robinson cut through the defence and making a long-range run before passing inside to Levido who locked up the scores at 6-all.
Brad Deitz attempted to burrow his way over from dummy half, but the Bulldogs markers gave a penalty away, and the Bears took the gift two points on offer to take the lead for the first time.
A great run by Zac Woolford gave the Bulldogs a chance to attack at the death, but the Bears were once again able to defuse the situation.
The Bulldogs had to go 90 metres in the final minute of play and they nearly pulled off a miracle, but a fantastic effort from the skipper, Ed Murphy, prevented any chance of a late defeat, when he jumped on a loose ball that prevented Tyrone Phillips getting a sniff, before Robinson booted the ball into Edison Street to complete the gutsy win.