The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Mighty North Sydney Bears Flegg team had a timely return to form, with a first class performance against the Parramatta Eels despite the wet and greasy conditions at North Sydney Oval on Saturday. In fact, both teams should be commended for their enterprising play in conditions not suited to expansive football. The Bears started well with a fine run down the left wing by Josh Lewis who managed to beat a couple of defenders and then threw a nice pass to Bryce Poisel who was tackled as he took the ball. But he managed to break free and had to crawl on his hands and knees to finally cross the try line for a 4-nil lead. The Bears followed it up with a fine run from Brett Law who laid on a brilliant inside ball to backrower Jacob Martin who scored under the posts to extend the Bears' lead to 10-nil. From the ensuing kick off the Bears received back to back penalties to find themselves deep on attack. A couple of tackles later, Mahana Tai found himself on the end of a pin point accurate grubber kick to have the Bears out to a 14-nil lead after only 20 minutes. A brief loss of focus proved costly for the Bears as a couple of missed tackles lead to 2 tries in five minutes to the Eels to cut the Bears lead to 14-10. Just prior to half time, the Bears were able to regain the momentum of the game with Jacob Martin's second try after great lead up work from Lee Te Maari and with a fine conversion by Johnny Russell had the Bears charging into the half time break with a 20-10 lead.
A solid start was imperative for the Bears. It was one of the Bears best, Brett Law who sliced through the Parramatta defence and touched down wide out to take the Bears out to 24-10. The Bears forward really muscled up with a number of fine runs from Cheyne Tickle and Bobby Bright. With the Bears really getting on top, James Donlan crossed for a try with some fine stepping bamboozling the Parramatta defence and with a brilliant conversion from out wide in difficult conditions by Johnny Russell had the Bears in control at 30-10. To Parramatta's credit they kept coming at the Bears and were rewarded with two consolation tries. A classic piece of play came when talented Lee Te Maari took a pass on the burst juggling the ball and throwing a pass over his shoulder where the amazing Johnny Russell was ready and waiting to take the pass and as smooth as a Lamborghini zipped off for a 10 metre run. Then a penalty goal to Johnny Russell close to full time gave the Bears a well deserved 32-20 victory.
"It's good to get the 2 points and we're planning on keeping the intensity up for the match against St George" said Jersey Flegg Coach, Josh White. Josh nominated his standouts as forward Cheyne Tickle, full back Johnny Russell "A standout every week", five eighth Brett Law and prop Bobby Bright.
Next week the Bears take on St George. Josh White had this to say, "Looking forward to it. It will be a good test. We can't lose sight of our goal - a final eight berth".
NORTH SYDNEY BEARS 32 Jacob Martin 2, Mahana Tai, James Donlan, Bryce Poisel, Brett Law tries, Johnny Russell 3 goals, Lee Te Maari goal
defeated PARRAMATTA EELS 20
The Premier League Bears put in a solid defensive performance against the Eels. The game started well for the Bears with Scott McLean kicking a penalty goal for a 2-nil lead. A Bears mistake from the kick off gave the Eels possession deep in Bears territory and they made the Bears pay with a try out wide to retake the lead 6-2. The Bears spirits were high after a fine inside ball from Nathan Smith had Matt Thurston in a hole and he scored to have the Bears back in front 8-6. Parramatta managed to score a couple of tries before half time to lead 16-8.
The Bears showed a great deal of spirit and tried tremendously hard to get over the line but Parramatta's defense held firm. The Bears used a nice variety of inside balls and grubber kicks but the bounce of the ball didn't go the Bears way. The game became a bit of an arm wrestle with field position the name of the game in the wet conditions. Unfortunately for the Bears, Parramatta were able to split their defense out wide a couple of times and the scored a further two tries to take control of the game 26-8. But as usual the Bears never gave up and Andrew Beattie scored a try late in the game and with a great conversion from the sideline by Scott McLean, the game finished at 26-14.
Premier League Coach and Norths legend Gary Larson believes the Bears are on the improve. "They definitely improved on defence from the last match". "We kept it simple and tighter round the ruck". Gary named Dave Letele as a standout, "He played well and got through a lot of work". Also Kurt Bryant "Has made us more solid in the middle" and Matt Rose "Was clever on his feet. He was our game breaker, our secret weapon".
Next week the Bears play St George/Illawarra and Coach Gary is demanding from his team that the improved defence continues. "Our goal is to improve again, no ifs or buts".
PARRAMATTA EELS 26 Joel Reddy 2, Wise Kativerata, Fred Peterson, Matt Gruszka tries Tim Smith 3 goals defeated NORTH SYDNEY BEARS 14 Matt Thurston, Andrew Beattie tries Scott McLean 3 goals.
For more information go to http://www.northsydneybears.com.au