The North Sydney Bears have continued their exceptional run towards the finals with a convincing 32-22 victory over the New Zealand Warriors at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.
Kirisome Auva’a and Cody Walker set the tone early for the Bears by bagging two tries each, before an inspirational defensive performance in the final quarter of the game denied the Warriors any chance of a comeback.
The victory for the Bears means they move deeper inside the top eight at the completion of round 22, while the Warriors’ Minor Premiership hopes took a significant blow.
The Warriors received a penalty 20 metres out in the fifth minute of the game, and David Bhana took full advantage of the gifted field position as he darted over from dummy half to score despite various protests from Bears defenders.
A chance to score back-to-back tries was blown when the Warriors could not take advantage of a three-on-one overlap on the left edge due to a poor pass into touch by Glen Fisiiahi.
A Cody Walker bomb off the back of that costly error was not handled by the Warriors and resulted in a six-again call. The very next play, Ed Murphy shot out of dummy half and passed to Joel Reddy, who strolled over to lock up the scores at four apiece.
The Bears marched up-field off the kickoff and Walker threw a picture perfect pass to Latrell Schaumkel, who caught the ball on the outside of his defender, which created a two on one overlap and consequently a try for Auva’a who was lingering in support.
The Warriors conceded three line-breaks in the space of four minutes, with only some outstanding cover defence denying Auva’a his second try in the 19th minute.
Jack Gosiewski was tackled after he burst through the line shortly afterwards, before Walker picked the ball up out of dummy half and spun through various defenders a few tackles later on his way to the try line to increase their lead to 16-4.
Konrad Hurrell powerfully stamped his authority on the game 10 minutes out from halftime after dominating some Bears defenders close to the try line to score.
Auva’a beat two defenders and scored for the Bears on the stroke of halftime after some incredible work from Darren Nicholls who threw a perfect offload for the try scorer to make the halftime score 22-10.
The Bears scored before the Warriors touched the ball in the second half after Walker dummied left and broke through the defence to complete his double.
Darryl Millard produced a stunning try saving tackle in the 49th minute, however the play the ball was too quick for the Bears defence, who could not stop Sam Rapira barging over to score in the very next play.
A fifth tackle penalty conceded by the Warriors allowed Ed Murphy to capitalise as he pushed through some Warriors defenders and planted the ball down with one hand to increase their lead to 32-16.
The Warriors were camped down the Bears end for the next 20 minutes, but inspirational North Sydney goal line defence simply refused to crack.
Tomas Aoake caught a ball that was kicked behind the Bears defence to finally score for the visitors in this period to reduce the deficit to 10 with seven minutes remaining – however this was the final scoring play of the game.
Explosive attack in the opening 55 minutes combined with some inspirational back-end defence won the Bears the game, who now sit comfortably within the top eight.
The Bears will take on the Newcastle Knights next Saturday afternoon at North Sydney Oval.
Bears 32 (Kirisome Auva'a 2, Cody Walker 2, Joel Reddy, Ed Murphy tries; Darren Nicholls 4 goals)
Warriors 22 (David Bhana, Konrad Hurrell, Sam Rapira, Tomas Aoake tries; Mason Lino 3 goals)