The North Sydney Bears bagged a hard-fought victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the opening Back to Belmore match today at Belmore Sports Ground by 42-36.

Norths found themselves down early after the Bulldogs put on a slick play to slice through the Bears defence before drawing in the fullback to go over for a converted try.

But the Bears squared it all up just moments later when front-rower Ronny Alovili crashed over on the after Norths carted the ball up-field well, Matt Evans converting to make it six apiece.

North’s were at it again shortly after, with Jesse Roberts crossed the line out wide before Evans added the extras to make the score 12-6 leading into the first drinks break.

After the break, Canterbury were in again when a perfectly weighted chip into the in-goal was taken by a flying blue and white winger on the fly to touch down just inside the touch-line to again square the ledger.

A penalty against the Bears for holding a Bulldogs player back allowed the Dogs to go further ahead when halfback Lindon McGrady strolled through a gaping hole in the Bears’ defence for a converted try, taking the score out to 18-12 in the home-sides favour.

With less than a minute left in the first half, Bears five-eighth Matt Evans seized an opportunity to break through the Dogs defence, streaking 40 metres to touch down under the posts. Kurt Aldridge converted to make the score at half time 18 apiece.

After the break, McGrady was at it again – the little halfback stepping through a stagnated Bears defensive line before planting the ball over the stripe to again take the lead. Levi Dodd added the extras to make it 24-18 in the Bulldogs’ favour.

The Bears’ Tui Paiova capitalsed on a massive break shortly after though – the Bears having gone almost the length of the field to cross. With the conversion from the touch-line missed, the Bears trailed by two points – but not for long. A bizarre missed catch by the Bulldogs’ fullback allowed Shae Jarvis to cross to regain the lead, Matt Evans converting to give the lead back to Norths at 28-24.

The Bears’ hunger began to grow, with a game of hot-potato out wide resulting in a try to Jackson Williams – Norths extending the lead to 32-24 at the final drinks break.

Williams was in again after the break, taking a long pass out wide before streaking over untouched under the posts. Matt Evans converted to make the score 38-24.

But the Bulldogs weren’t quite done yet. Lindon McGrady racked up his hat-trick for the Bulldogs with by racing in for a converted try to make it 38-30 with 12 minutes remaining.

With seven minutes left, the Bulldogs were in again through five-eighth Nathan Massey with Levi Dodd again adding the extras to make it 34-36.

Jesse Roberts put the win beyond doubt with mere minutes remaining when he ran 35 metres to score virtually untouched, making it 42-36 in the Bears’ favour.

Bears try-scorers: Ronny Alovili, Jesse Roberts 2, Matt Evans, Tui Paiova, Shae Jarvis, Jackson Williams 2.