Permanent Fixture at Bear Park
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
|Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:05 pm Post subject:
|What a patchy performance today in our 16-30 loss to Illawarra. At times we looked pretty good, more often we looked out of our depth.
Such a contrast between the sides in how they approached the task. Illawarra's goal line defence was like a sliding door that moved left and right across the ground. NS just couldn't seem to work out how to get through it. Bash and barge didn't work. In comparison, NS's goal line defence was like a gap-toothed hillbilly, an uneven line and which left openings all over the place. NS's defence was actually quite good in other parts of the ground, but near the goal line, it was panicky and disjointed.
Illawarra's ability to get away offloads was also impressive, that cut us to pieces quite a few times. Quite a few times when our players took the tackle, I was left with the impression that Illawarra would have got a pass away. We also fell off tackles too often.
There was one change to the squad - as expected, Anthony Cherrington came into the starting side, wearing no. 18, in place of 13 Cheyne Whitelaw who dropped to the bench. Nos. 9 Brad Dietz and 14 Piki Rogers did a swap with Rogers starting, while 15 Tom Freebairn was the one who made way for Cherrington. I saw someone wearing no. 19 in the warmup but I don't know who it was. (It was Latrell Robinson according to the updated team list at www.northsydneybears.com.au.)All seventeen players got game time.
Illawarra scored tries in the 5th and 15th minutes, both of them on the back of double penalties conceded by the Bears that helped Illawarra get well on the attack. It was this opening period that killed us. We played reasonably well, except where it counted, i.e. defending our goal line.
Adam Doueihi's kicking wasn't that great today. His first one went out on the full, and his next two went straight to Illawarra players. He seemed not to playing with much confidence until late in the game when he started opening up and trying things. He has potential.
While Tasi had been held up in goal n the 20th minute, the first real excitement for the Bears came in about the 23rd when Dean Britt did a great chargedown and gather. This put NS on the attack in our quarter and the set ended with Jason Clark denied a try by an unlucky bounce near the posts which was secured by Illawarra for a line drop out. However, we scored on the next set with a great passing movement finished by Tautalatasi Tasi in the left corner. The final pass from Eli Levido was great - he didn't have much time, cut out Ed Murphy and found Tasi. And then converted from the touchline to make it 12-6.
Shortly afterwards, Dave Tyrell was tackled short and lost the ball as he tried to stretch out. It looked like we were getting momentum, but Levido made a mess of an Illawarra kick on the fifth tackle, giving Illawarra a scrum in our quarter. In the subsequent play, NS conceded three penalties (one on the first tackle of a set) and Illwarra scored in the left corner following a very nicely placed cross-kick. Abbas Miski had actually caught the ball, but it was stolen from him on a one-on-one strip before his feet had touched the ground. This made it 18-6 at half time.
The game was pretty well done by the eighth minute of the second half when a penalty and an offload gave Illawarra a converted try for a 24-6 lead. "Mistake after mistake" I wrote after Ed Murphy lost the ball in a tackle close to the Illawarra goal line. From the resulting set, Illawarra kicked on the last only for Tasi to spill it over the touch line. Illawarra scored shortly afterwards and it was 30-6.
A positive bit of play resulted in Brad Dietz getting the ball from the kick off and that set up a nice bit of play which finished with Miski scoring in the right corner. Gee, he's strong. He had four defenders hanging onto him, but he still scored. Again, Levido converted from the touchline and it was 30-12 with 11 or 12 minutes left. Three minutes later Miski got another try, after the ball seemed initially to be going nowhere. It went to the left touchline before heading to the right. Levido's pass was intended for Murphy but hit the ground although the ball bounced nicely for Miski who went for the corner. Unfortunately, Levido's conversion attempt missed and it was 30-16. There was still time, unlikely as it was, but a couple of quick tries could change things.
NS played with a bit more dynamism after this, but still seemed to lack the imagination to get through the Illawarra defence. We threw the ball about more and got offloads, but were missing something. The inside balls weren't working. Luke Kelly put through a really nice kick that almost found Sitiveni Moceidreke in the in goal. Illawarra got there first, but NS was ruled to be offside. A shame, this was a nice bit of play.
Illawarra 30 (5 tries, 5 goals) df
North Sydney Bears 16 (Abbas Miski 2, Tautalatasi Tasi tries; Eli Levido 2 goals from 3 attempts)
For a separate account (which I haven't read yet), the report from the NSWRL website is below.
On a separate point, I note that Illawarra had "Steelers" on the front of its jersey. While I realise that this is the name of some sports club in Wollongong, I think it sends the wrong message, i.e. that the NRL team is St George Dragons and the NSW Cup side is Illawarra Steelers. There are enough St George fans in denial about the merger as it is without having this misconception reinforced in this way.
Illawarra Down Bears To Stay In The Eight
Sat 12th August, 02:00PM
While the North Sydney Bears were technically the home side at UOW Jubilee Oval, it was Illawarra who were right at home in defeating the bears 30-12 in Round 23 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW this afternoon.
Illawarra was boosted by the return of 2016 Grand Final-winning halfback Drew Hutchison, but the NRL hopeful was moved to the bench shortly before kick-off. The likes of Jacob Host, Luciano Leilua and Jake Marketo helped their pack, while David Tyrell, Jason Clark and Anthony Cherrington made up a strong pack for North Sydney.
Some strong defence highlighted the opening exchanges, with back-to-back penalties giving Illawarra some early ball on the Bears' line. Payne made no mistake in putting Rhys Kennedy through a hole, with the prop crashing over for an early 6-0 lead.
Illawarra were looking dangerous with second-phase play, but the Bears' bruising defence was holding strong. It would soon cost them significantly, however, with Cherrington's aggression bringing consecutive penalties - the second of which was a bad-looking high shot. The tackle was not met with a sin bin, but the Bears lock came off second best and was visibly struggling to defend regardless.
The resulting Illawarra set gave them their second try when Adam Clune went short to Leilua, whose offload bounced straight back into the hands of his halfback; Clune crossed untouched to extend the advantage to 12. Cherrington hobbled off to compound the Bears' woes.
North Sydney continued to push for points with Tautalatasi Tasi soon held up, before promising runs from Brad Deitz and Clark also threatened to get the side's first. Sure enough, Tasi would be the man to score for the Bears and it came off a fantasic pass from Eli Levido under pressure; the fullback then converting from out wide for a 12-6 scoreline.
The Bears had all the running and on the back of a penalty, David Tyrell broke through to go within millimetres of scoring, but put it down just short. After a very unlucky knock-on call against Sam Clune, North Sydney got another chance to attack but a lacklustre set came up with no points.
Penalties began to snowball for the Bears with the threat of a sin bin for slowing down the ruck - and the 2016 premiers made the most of their next opportunity. A bomb from Clune fell into the hand of opposition winger Abbas Miski, but was superbly stolen mid-air by Kalifa Faifai Loa to score. Field converted from the sideline once again to take scores to 18-6, which would remain until half-time.
The second half began with the injection of Hutchison, who replaced Adam Clune in the halves. An admittedly scrappy start to the stanza ensued, but Leilua soon continued Illawarra's dominance with a barnstorming run from a Josh Kerr offload. The second-rower's try, along with another conversion to Field, extended the lead to 18.
North Sydney needed to score soon and applied significant pressure to the Illawarra defence over a five-minute period, with repeat sets and penalties giving them a golden opportunity. An error brought them undone eventually and Illawarra made them pay, with a fantastic run from Hind getting his side another.
A short kick-off from the Bears worked in their favour, regaining possession in good position. When the ball was sent wide to Miski, no less than four Illawarra defenders appeared to easily have him covered in driving him into touch, but the winger miraculously got the ball down for the Bears' second. With the conversion, they trailed 30-12 with 16 minutes remaining.
As the clock wound down and with the Bears on last tackle, a movement which spanned the width of the field resulted in Miski getting a double; when Levido threw the final pass, Faifai Loa committed to a tackle but it trailed past him to Miski, who dived over in the corner. Unfortunately for North Sydney, the conversion attempt fell short, ruling out any realistic possibility of a comeback.
In the end, it was a strong defensive display which will most please Illawarra fans and Mat Head's men did not let up for the remainder of the match. They would remain in seventh position after defeating the Bears 30 points to 16.
Illawarra 30 (R Kennedy, A Clune, K Faifai Loa, L Leilua, J Hind tries; J Field 5 goals) def North Sydney Bears 16 (A Miski 2, T Tasi tries; E Levido 2 goals)