25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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A home ground advantage of North Sydney Oval and the knowledge that destiny was in their own hands with no storm players available has inspired Josh White?s Bears to give a passionate performance against heavyweights St George-Illawarra.
Another possible inspiration was the pre-match tribute (a minute?s silence) to one of Norths and rugby league?s greatest point scorers Allan Arkey who gathered a total of 689 points in his career. Also wearing black arm bands in memory of the super boot/fullback the Bears began their campaign.
With some positional changes: Dan Russell to lock, Luke Fatnowna to the second row and Liam Foran making his Premier League debut at halfback, Norths had renewed momentum in attack and defence, most noticeable committing hard for a full 75 minutes, the match only being lost in the last minutes with the Dragons finally breaking through on the wing to score three tries in the last 5. The final score, 30-14 to the Dragons.
For their part the Bears were able to restrain the Dragons trade mark scoring out wide for the majority of the game and hit back with attacks from their back line of their own. Karl Johnson ran strong and Scott Perrin worked hard for effective off loads while John Russell gave all back in his trademark roll at halfback. The new half pairing of James Maloney and Liam Foran worked well including a 20/40 kick by James early in the match to get the Bears rolling.
With only three substitutes used in the first half, the North Sydney forward pack put in big time Aaron Trinder was players player and was aggressive in attack and defence, and terrorising the Dragons up front was the big boy Eddie Sua.
In an indication of the Bears efforts Dragons coach Steve Price confided to Bears coach Josh White the tough performance the Bears put up against his team. While in the sheds General Manager Greg Florimo echoed Josh Whites?s sentiments and congratulated the team on the improved performance.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 30 Tries: J. Nightingale 3, B. Ryan, R.
Williams, G. Ndaira Goals: L. Te maari 3, defeated NORTH SYDNEY BEARS 14
Tries: J. Maloney, A. Beare Goals: R. Russell 3.
In Jersey Flegg it was also an improved performance against the Cronulla Sharks.
Changes to the line-up included Bears junior Michael Radocay coming onto the wing with Chris Heasman going in to centre.
The first half score was 6-22. The Bears try was scored by Siaosi Liumauna and was converted by Ryan Wilson. It was close until Cronulla scored a few quick tries.
In the second half the Bears started well and scored tries to Michael Morris (which was converted by Ryan Wilson) and Tupou Peaua to get the Bears back in the game at 16-22. Unfortunately the Sharks were able to make some breaks and ended up winning. The final score was Cronulla 40