Bears v Knights

TG Milner Field, Sunday 3 April

Kick-off – 3:00pm

Reigning Premiers, the Newcastle Knights, finally kick-started their season defence last round with a stirring 22-14 comeback victory over the high-flying Wentworthville Magpies after trailing 14-0 midway through the second half, but they’ll need to kick it up another gear as they tackle a North Sydney Bears team motivated to return to the winners’ circle after falling 18-16 in a narrow loss to Mounties.

“It was a fairly high-quality match,” Bears coach Ben Gardiner told NSWRL.com.au.

“From our point of view, we put ourselves in a position at the end of the game where the game was there to be won by either team.”

The Knights broke through for their first win of the season and are determined to build on their victory against the 2-2 Bears who are still maturing as a side each week – a fact Gardiner appreciates as part of all levels of the game.

“We take it as a learning curve as we do every game,” said Gardiner.

“We got better as a team but when the pressure was on at the backend of the game their (Mounties) decision making was better than ours and leading into this week (our) guys in key positions would be better at. If they’re put under pressure again, the decisions they make are the right ones.

“That happens at an NRL level too.”

North Sydney have had to combat a number of line-up changes with players moving up to the Sydney Rabbitohs NRL side. However, it’s promising signs to come for both Rabbitohs and Bears fans.

“It’s not so challenging – we actually see that as a real positive for our club,” Gardiner said.

“We’ve had a few guys that have come from the Norths-contracted side to be the 18th man for the NRL squad for the last couple of weeks. We see that as a large positive for us as a club and what we’re doing in the background.”

It shapes as a captivating clash for two sides hungry for more success.

This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au.