INTRUST SUPER PREMIERSHIP
Bears get the monkey off the back with first win
With former Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues hooker Robbie Farah leading the way, the North Sydney Bears have finally opened their account for the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership NSW with a 28-10 win over the Newcastle Knights.
The visitors got off to the perfect start at McDonald Jones Stadium, after Newcastle second-rower Bobby Treacy was placed on report by referee Darian Furner for a late shoulder charge on North Sydney half Connor Tracy.
Match: Knights vs Bears
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
From the ensuing penalty, Tracy popped up a nice pass for Bears centre Campbell Graham to burst over from close range for the opening try after just 70 seconds on the clock. Dean Hawkins converted to give Norths an early 6-0 lead.
Both sides then had early chances inside their opponent’s 20-metre area for no result, before the class and experience of Farah came to the fore in the 20th minute.
With the Bears deep inside the Knights’ 20-metre zone on the back of a penalty set, Farah ran from dummy-half on the last tackle and put in a deft grubber that took a wicked deflection off a Newcastle defender for Tracy to score.
Hawkins converted to open up a shock 12-0 Bears lead.
After a series of Jack Cogger cross-field kicks were well contained by the Bears cover, the visitors had the next chance to score midway through the half.
Farah was held up in goal as he tried to burrow over from dummy-half, and Hawkins dropped the ball short of the goal-line when reaching out to score on the next play. However, the Bears – and Farah – were not to be denied.
Eight minutes from half-time, another pinpoint Farah dummy-half grubber kick from from close range evaded the despairing dive of Knights fullback Brent Naden, for Graham to win the race in goal and bag his second try. Hawkins converted to give the Bears an 18-0 advantage.
Farah’s kicking game kept turning the Knights around – and off the back of a Tom Hughes spilt bomb three minutes from half-time, a sweeping right side movement through the hands from the ensuing scrum set saw Graham complete a first-half hat-trick in the right corner.
Hawkins missed the touch-line conversion, but the Bears took a commanding 22-0 lead to the half-time break.
Another perfectly placed Farah kick forced repeat goal-line dropouts five minutes into the second half.
From the repeat set, a simple backline movement through the hands saw winger Jacob Gagan crash over in the left corner.
Hawkins nailed the touch line conversion and the Bears virtually had the match won at 28-0.
The Knights finally got on the board in the 53rd minute when nippy interchange half Tom Starling burst out of dummy-half from his own 30-metre line, running 40 metres to score Newcastle’s first try.
After both sides had further chances over the next 17 minutes for no result, Graham dropped a midfield bomb which led to an offside penalty to the Knights with 10 minutes to play.
From the ensuing penalty set, Knights prop Jacob Saifiti crashed over from close range to score the last try of the match near the posts. Jack Cogger converted to reduce the final margin to 28-10.
The Knights had one last chance to make the score respectable in the closing stages - however their winger Braidon Burns was denied a try due to a forward pass. The Bears then ran down the clock to cruise to their first win of the season.
North Sydney will look to make it back to back wins when they take on competition leaders Wests at North Sydney Oval next Saturday, broadcast on Channel 9.
The Knights will look to get back to form against the Newtown Jets at Cessnock next Saturday.
North Sydney Bears 28 (C Graham 3, D Hawkins, J Gagan tries; D Hawkins 4 goals) def Newcastle Knights 10 (T Starling, J Safiti tries; J Cogger goal)
Cover Image: Steve Little