On a sunny but cool Sunday afternoon, the North Sydney Bears made it three wins in a row when they disposed of Western Subutrbs 58-6 at North Sydney Oval.
The Bears were too strong and fast for the young, inexperienced Magpies outfit with fringe Souths NRL player, Josh Starling having an outstanding match for the black and reds. Whilst Wests were looking to consolidate on their great performance last week against Cronulla but in the end, were outclassed.
It took the Bears just three minutes to open their account when their captain, Bennett Leslie scored in the grandstand cnr after breaking the defensive line just 15m out. Jack Hawkins missed the conversion for a 4-0 scoreline.
The next 20 mins saw the Magpies with the lion share of possession but their inexperience showed with a lack of patience when they had the ball resulting in several turnovers.
The Bears scored at the 23rd minute marj when a clever kick by halfback Ryan Carr over the Wests defence was regather by winger Chris Centrone who was brought down just centimetres from the Wests try line. A quick play the ball saw Souths NRL centre, Fetuli Talanoa score in the cnr. The conversion from the sideline was successful by Hawkins and the Bears were up 10-0.
Just five minutes later, Norths were in again when second rower, Blake Judd scored after stepping inside the Wests defence on a 20m run to the tryline. Hawkins added the extras for a 16-0 scoreline.
Then a superb Norths try at the 33rd minute mark when halfback Carr shaped to kick one way but instead grubber kick the ball on his outstep for the ball to sit up perfectly for fullback Kieran Vale to collect the ball just 10m out from the Wests line to score besides the posts. Hawkins conversion made it 22-0.
Wests conceded a penalty just seconds from the halftime siren on their 10m line and a pin point kick to the winger Centrone from Carr resulted in another four pointer just as the siren was sounding and Hawkins kicked another sideline conversion for a half time score of 28-0 to the Bears.
At 28-0, it was going to be hard work for Wests to get back into the game and a good start to the second half was vital. However it was the Bears who started the second half better and Bennett Leslie scored his second for the afternoon at the 47 minute mark after the Bears won a scrum on their 20m line and were able to work the ball into Wests half where Leslie burst through out wide and raced away 40m to score. Hawkins failed to convert and it was 32-0.
Norths scored again at the 53rd minute on the back on consecutive penalties when former Balmain/Ryde Eastwood forward Chris Hyland prove too strong close to the line to cross near the posts. Hawkins made no mistake with the extras and it was now 38-0.
Wests then scored their only try of the game at the 61st minute mark after a barnstorming run by Seffa Silafau. The movement started on Wests 40m line when Michael Lekkas was able to palm off a defender and pass to lock, Tom Morrison who quickly passed to Silafau. He was able to smash through the Norths forwards and raced 25m upfield before finding the flying Zoram Watene in support who raced away from the Norths fullback to score under the posts. Latu Fifita converted for a 38-6 scoreline.
Norths centre, Talanoa scored his second try at the 66 minute mark when he was able to simply palm off a would-be defender to score out wide. Hawkins added the extras for a 44-6 scoreline.
Further tries in the final 10 minutes to Josh Starling who scored close after a charge close to the line, winger Centrone who spun out of a tackler to plant the ball down out wide and a second try to Starling who just bulldozed his way past defenders on a 30m charge to the tryline for a final scoreline of Norths 58 Wests 6.
For Wests, Seffa Silafau was a stand out and always brought the Wests contingent in the crowd to its feet every time he charged into the Norths pack and often left his Norths counterparts bruised from his runs. His defensive work was also tremendous. Light weight forwards Daniel La Manna and Tom Morrison were always in the thick of the action with their high workrate in defence and Tom showed he isn't just a tackling machine with a wonderful 20m grubber kick towards the Norths tryline which he followed through causing a knock on from the Bears fullback.
Fullack Zoram Watene as usual was superb in the air when defusing bombs and running the ball back from kicks. The halves Trent Touma and Chris Nay were also busy guiding the side around the park but Nay suffered a serious shin injury early in the second half which may have ended his promising debut season.
For Norths, their smallish but robust pack were like terriers in defence and were able to cross the advantage line much easier then their Wests counterparts. Josh Starling in particular was a handful every time he touched the ball whilst Brock Molan, Blake Judd and Neccrom Areaiiti were not far behind. With Souths NRL pack playing so well, its no wonder Starling and Areaiiti can't get a start there. They may well be playing regular NRL first grade elsewhere.
Halfback Ryan Carr was possibly the best on the ground, his ability to guide the Bears around the park with his passing and a great kicking game went a long way towards Norths easy victory. Centres Bennett Leslie and Talanoa were just too big, strong and fast for their Wests counterparts whilst winger Centrone outshone his more illustrious team mate on the other wing, Curits Johnstone.
For Wests, it doesn't get any easlier next week when they take on the competition's benchmark side, Canterbury on friday 3rd August at Wests former spiritual home ground, Lidcombe Oval with a 7pm kick off.
Norths 58 (Leslie 2, Talanoa 2, Starling 2, Centrone 2, Judd, Vale, Hyland tries: Hawkins 7 goals) def Wests 6 (Watene try: Latu Fifita goal)
Half time - Norths 28 - Wests 0
Goal kikers - Jack Hawkinis 7/11: Latu Fifita 1/1
Scrums: Wests 11 Norths 5
Penalties: Norths 8 Wests 4
1 Kieran Vale
2 Chris Centrone
3 Fetuli Talanoa
4 Bennett Leslie
5 Curtis Johnstone
6 Jack Hawkins
7 Ryan Carr
8 Scott Geddes
9 Brendan McKinnon
10 Neccrom Areaiiti
11 Blake Judd
12 Greg Nichols
22 Josh Starling
13 Brock Molan
15 Matt Hyland
16 Chris Hyde
17 Martin Field
1 Zoram Watene
2 Tarrant Mariner
3 Greg Davis
4 Joe Uluibau
5 Michael La Manna
6 Trent Touma
7 Chris Nay
8 Seffa Silafau
9 Nigel Millgate
10 Latu Fifita
11 Daniel La Manna
12 Michael Lekkas
13 Tom Morrison
14 Henry Godinet
16 Todd Makejev
17 Keanu Rogers
25 Tom Pritchard