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Halfback Luke Kelly - Intrust Super Premiership | Round 11 | North Sydney Vs Blacktown | North Sydney Oval | 21/05/2017. Photo Steve Little

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While the North Sydney Bears were technically the home side at UOW Jubilee Oval, it was Illawarra who were right at home in defeating the bears 30-12 in Round 23 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW this afternoon.

Illawarra was boosted by the return of 2016 Grand Final-winning halfback Drew Hutchison, but the NRL hopeful was moved to the bench shortly before kick-off. The likes of Jacob Host, Luciano Leilua and Jake Marketo helped their pack, while David Tyrell, Jason Clark and Anthony Cherrington made up a strong pack for North Sydney.

Some strong defence highlighted the opening exchanges, with back-to-back penalties giving Illawarra some early ball on the Bears' line. Payne made no mistake in putting Rhys Kennedy through a hole, with the prop crashing over for an early 6-0 lead.

Illawarra were looking dangerous with second-phase play, but the Bears' bruising defence was holding strong. It would soon cost them significantly, however, with Cherrington's aggression bringing consecutive penalties - the second of which was a bad-looking high shot. The tackle was not met with a sin bin, but the Bears lock came off second best and was visibly struggling to defend regardless.

Read the full report here.

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