Despite going down on the scoreboard in Round 25 of the NSW Cup by 30-22 against the Newtown Jets, the North Sydney Bears have secured their place in Week one of the competition’s finals series after finishing eighth.
Corin Smith put in a four-try performance for the Jets, while Todd Murphy controlled the game beautifully and Junior Roqica proved to be a powerful asset up the middle of the field.
Cody Walker scored two tries for the Bears, which now brings his impressive 2015 try-scoring tally up to 17.
The game began incredibly poorly for the Bears, dropping the ball on the second tackle of the game, before giving away a penalty in the following set.
The Jets took full advantage of the gifted field-position, as Daniel Abou-Sleiman threw a perfectly weighted pass for Smith to score in the right corner.
Todd Murphy slotted the conversion, but the Bears responded almost immediately thanks to yet another freakish try to Walker.
Walker ran the ball on last tackle through a fractured defensive line, beat various defenders and got around the fullback to plant the ball down and decrease the deficit to 6-4.
The Bears hit the lead through a try off the kick-off set, as Jack Gosiewski threw an offload straight into the hands of Ed Murphy who did the rest. Darren Nicholls converted to increase the lead to 10-6.
Nesiasi Mataitonga offloaded to Corey Brown, who darted down the left sideline and looked certain to score, but Ed Murphy chased hard and pulled off an inspirational try-saving tackle just short of the line.
However, nobody could stop Smith for his second try of the afternoon, as he showed blistering speed to charge through a hole and evade Daryl Millard to take the lead back to 12-10.
It was now the Jets’ turn to score back-to-back tries off the kick-off set, as Tim Robinson was on the receiving end of a great offload and ran away to score, which came off the back of a Roqica line-break.
The Jets increased their lead to 22-10 when Todd Murphy perfectly held up a pass for Abou-Sleiman to get the ball to an unmarked Smith, who completed a first half hat-trick in the right corner.
The Bears scored an unusual try in the opening two minutes of the second half, and it began when Daryl Millard picked up a ball in the in-goal that was knocked on by the Jets in the field of play.
The Jets did not play to the whistle – thinking it would be a turnover, and Millard took full advantage by getting the ball to Ed Murphy, who ran the length of the field through some dormant defence to score.
After 12 minutes of constant errors by both sides, Todd Murphy broke through the Bears defensive line and passed to Smith - who was lingering in support, to score his fourth try of the afternoon.
A controversial no-try ruling came in the 60th minute, when Latrell Schaumkel believed he grounded a Walker grubber, but was ruled a knock-on by the touch judge.
Three minutes later, the Bears scored after Nicholls put a chip-kick through the goal posts and Walker came out of nowhere to catch the ball and decrease the deficit to 28-22.
A Jets penalty in front of the posts deflated the Bears, as Todd Murphy slotted the easy two points to take the score line out of try-scoring range with only 10 minutes remaining.
30-22 was the final score, which means the Bears finish in eighth position and will play the Canterbury Bulldogs next week in an elimination-final.
Jets 30 (Corin Smith 4, Tim Robinson tries; Todd Murphy 5 goals)
Bears 22 (Ed Murphy 2, Cody Walker 2 tries; Darren Nicholls 3 goals)