This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au.
A career-best five-try performance from winger Tautalatasi Tasi has propelled the North Sydney Bears to an easy 42-10 win over the Wests Tigers in their Intrust Super Premiership NSW match at Leichhardt Oval this afternoon.
North Sydney's win secured their place in this year’s finals series and was set up by a first-half attacking blitz that put the contest well out of reach of the young Tigers outfit.
The Bears wasted no time in getting going, scoring in just the third minute. After a repeat set from a goal-line dropout, a left-side shift late in the tackle count found Tasi, who finished off the movement to burst through two defenders to score the opening try.
Norths then extended the lead seven minutes later at the end of a penalty set when another left-side spread saw a sweet Luke Kelly pass send centre Sitiveni Mocidreke away for the visitors’ second try. Eli Levido converted for a 10-0 Bears lead.
With a welter of early possession in the first 20 minutes, the Bears continued on their merry way in the 19th minute when half Luke Kelly stepped through the Tigers defence from close range to score an easy solo try. Levido added the extras for a 16-0 Bears lead.
Following a Tigers turnover six minutes later, a simple backline spread through the hands saw Tasi score his second try in the corner. Levido again converted from touch and Norths led 22-0.
By this stage, the Bears were making line-breaks almost at will – switching play to the right edge from the restart set for centre Ed Murphy to burst into the clear and send Lebanese international winger Abbas Miski on a 45-metre diagonal run to score. Levido again added the extras and Norths had a commanding 28-0 lead.
North Sydney should have scored from the set following the next restart, with Murphy dropping the ball in goal when finishing off an extended second-phase play through multiple hands.
However, the Bears made amends on their next attack six minutes from half-time when hooker Brad Dietz made a half-break from close range down the left-hand blind side, before putting in a grubber kick in goal for Tasi to pick up the ball unopposed and complete a first-half hat-trick for a 32-0 Norths lead – which the Bears took to the break.
The first half ended on a fiery note when Bears back-rower Jack Gosiewski was sin-binned by referee Damien Brady for a late hit on Tigers interchange half Will Kitt that sparked an all-in melee.
Starting the second half with 12 men didn’t stop the Bears adding to their tally, however. A last-tackle grubber kick down the left four minutes into the second stanza took a ricochet off the Tigers defence for Mocidreke to pick up and pass to Tasi for his fourth try in the corner. Levido converted from touch to blow the Bears lead out to 38-0.
The Tigers finally got on the board 13 minutes into the second half when – on the back of a penalty set – fullback Christian Yassmin finished off a neat left-side raid to score in the corner for a 38-4 Norths lead.
After a long break by Tigers prop Ava Seumanufagai saw Yassmin in support get caught just short by Levido in cover, an ensuing flurry of penalties to the Tigers gave the home side enough sets for bench forward Wes Lolo to crash over and score. Luke Garner converted to move the Tigers into double figures at 38-10 with 20 minutes to play.
As the match wound down in the closing stages, Tasi’s red-letter day was not done yet.
A late Bears backline movement with 12 minutes left saw chain passing through the hands find Tasi – who did the rest to bag his fifth try in the left corner and round out the handsome 42-10 Norths victory.
Unbeaten in their last four games (three wins and a draw), the Bears will look to continue their late-season run of good form against Illawarra at UOW Jubilee Oval, Kogarah next Saturday at 12:40pm. The Tigers have a chance to get a win against the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at HE Laybutt Fields, Blacktown next Sunday at 3pm.
North Sydney Bears 42 (T Tasi 5, L Kelly, S Moceidreke, A Miski tries; E Levido 5 goals) def Wests Tigers 10 (C Yassmin, W Lolo tries; L Garner goal)