The North Sydney Bears took on fellow Foundation Club, the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the first round of the Canterbury Cup NSW at Redfern Oval.
Highlights | Rabbitohs v Bears, Round 1
A scrappy match was expected as conditions were dreadful at Redfern Oval, with Sydney receiving a months’ worth of rain throughout the day.
Despite these conditions, both sides completion rates were exceptional for most of the first half.
Souths early weight of possession eventuated in the first try of the match to Kyle Turner.
The Bears were able to shift the momentum due to a break off the back of a great ball to Lachlan Lam from Bradley Deitz.
This lead to the Bears first try of the season when Sitili Tupouniua pounced on a lovely Lachlan Lam grubber.
Just as Souths looked destined to score again, an intercept to Asu Kepaoa gave him a chance to show off his speed as he ran 90 metres to score, making it a 10-6 lead for the Bears.
The Bears line defense was strong, holding off multiple Souths sets before the pressure eventuated in try to Brittain and a 12-10 Souths lead.
Towards the end of the first half the Bears halves started to combine showing slick hands and building a strong kicking game.
Two huge defensive hits from Max Bailey forced a turnover late in the first half that lead to a scrum in which Lachlan Lam ran a beautiful line at first receiver providing a try to Bernard Lewis in the corner.
The Bears would lead 14-12 at half time.
The second half turned into a scrappy, error riddled match from both sides that most people expected from the start with the tough conditions.
The Bears were able to even out possession early in the second half and had some opportunities that unfortunately could not be capitalized on and turned into points.
Souths were continuously denied by some fantastic try line defense by the Bears but unfortunately in the 70th minute, Connor Tracey hit the line at great speed and was too hard to stop, giving Souths the only points of the second half and the win.
Although it was not the result we were looking for there was a lot of positives to take away from the match for the Bears.
Coach Jason Taylor highlighted this, “There was definitely some positives to take from the match but I think the biggest thing about the game was the opposition played the conditions better than us.
"We were forced to defend our line for a lot of the game and we need to improve our ball control."
Among the positives were the performance of forwards, Max Bailey and Nat Butcher.
“Max was impressive, strong in defense and so was Nat Butcher, they were definitely the two stand outs."
Butcher was the teams leader in both tackles (66) and running metres (237) whilst Bailey had 110 running metres from his 13 hit ups and 30 tackles in just 41 minutes off the bench.
The Bears take on the Sea Eagles in round 2 this Saturday 23 March at 5:20pm at Brookvale Oval.
North Sydney Bears: 14 | Souths Sydney Rabbitohs: 18
Souths tries: Kyle Turner, Billy Brittain, Connor Tracey
Souths conversions: Hiroti 3/3
Bears tries: Sitili Tupouniua, Asu Kepaoa, Bernard Lewis
Bears conversions: Lamb 1/3