Mounties Pip Norths in Tight Affair
An explosive opening 15 minutes of the game by Mounties ultimately proved to be the difference, in what was a tough-fought 18-16 victory over the North Sydney Bears.
For the Bears, Eli Levido kept on fighting, and his attacking prowess inspired the men in black and red to get so close after a disastrous start.
Off the back of an early penalty, Mounties had the first opportunity to post points, but Eddie Aiono knocked on over the line despite an athletic effort off the back of a wonderful right-to-left shift.
Keen to take advantage of the field position after the scrambling effort by the Bears, they further cruelled themselves by giving away a questionable obstruction penalty just as they had entered the opposition half.
Mounties took full advantage of the penalty, striking first through a barnstorming Barnett, after he was a recipient of a perfect Lachlan Croker pass.
A sloppy play the ball by Clayton Williams on the halfway line meant Brad Dietz could not get a handle on the ball, causing the Bears to cough up possession again which gifted Mounties valuable field position.
Once again, Mounties took full advantage, as Buttriss skipped out of dummy half in the following set and threw a face-ball for Bateman to crash over next to the left upright to increase the lead to 10-0.
While the match began to even out after the incredibly dominant opening 15 minutes by Mounties, the Bears would be rueing their missed opportunities and ill-discipline in the opening half, having only had 43% of the ball and making 18 missed tackles compared to only seven by their opposition.
Trailing on the scoreboard, the Bears needed something to re-ignite, and a wonderful big-hit by the little halfback, Eli Levido, on Mitch Barnett in a David versus Goliath mis-match forced an error. Levido backed up his hit by putting in a smart kick into the in-goal on the end of the following set.
However, it was to no avail, and the score remained 10-0 until half-time with both teams having close try-scoring opportunities. Buttriss went close for Mounties while Cheyne Whitelaw was held up for the Bears after a barnstorming run towards the posts.
Mounties began the second half on the attack almost immediately, and Croker believed he had scored an incredible solo try, but he was ruled to have ran behind Jacob Mayer and they were called up for an obstruction.
A Levido show-and-go allowed him to run away, before a Sitiveni Moceidreke grubber kick forced a dropout to allow the Bears to build pressure.
Up until the 52nd minute, Mounties had an answer for everything the Bears threw at them, but off the back of the repeat set, Patrice Siolo reached over to score after a North Sydney wrap-around to post their first points of the afternoon.
Mounties bounced back 10 minutes later with an incredible athletic effort by Kato Ottio. Maurice Kennedy put in a pinpoint cross-field kick; before Ottio flew in the air and magically reeled the ball in before planting it down to increase their lead 16-6.
Immediately, the Bears responded, after Mounties made a crucial error off the kick-off, before Ed Murphy finished off a beautiful scrum play to slide over and score. Levido could not convert which meant the Bears trailed 16-10 with 14 minutes remaining.
Whitelaw gave away a crucial penalty with the ball, and while he was clearly distressed at the decision, it should have gifted Mounties two easy points, however Croker missed the seemingly simple shot at goal.
Off the 20-metre dropout, the Jack Gosiewski gave away a blocking penalty, which gave Kennedy a kick at goal, and he made no mistake to increase their lead to 18-10.
A late try to the Bears kept them optimistic about a late come-from-behind victory, but Mounties defence stuck strong which meant they came away with the important two-points.
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