NSW Cup Round 19 Match Report vs North Sydney Bears

Ricky Newell

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles slipped to a 30-16 loss to the  North Sydney Bears in Round 19 of the NSW Cup today in a disappointing afternoon for the home side.

Missing a handful of key players, Blacktown Workers struggled to assert themselves after taking a 10-6 lead into the sheds at half-time, with fatigue kicking in as the Bears pounced to score four tries in the final 30 minutes.  

Alfred Smalley and Ben Stevanovic, who were two of six former Blacktown players on the field, both scored two tries apiece as the visitors outscored the home side five tries to three.

Kurt De Luis, Tyran Ott, Zach Dockar-Clay and Phillip Makatoa were the other four players, with all six playing a total of 135 games for Blacktown Workers between 2019 and 2022. 

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Despite the result, Clayton Faulalo still managed to cross to maintain his position at the top of the NSW Cup  tryscoring leaderboard. The centre left it late in the match, scoring with just under five minutes to go to record 19 tries in 16 games.

The loss sees the second-placed Bears move six points ahead of the seventh-placed Sea Eagles with seven matches remaining. Blacktown Workers sit three points outside the top five.

The Bears surged forward in the opening five minutes as they pushed deep into the Sea Eagles’ half. On two occasions in a matter of minutes, wingers Allan Fitzgibbon and Smalley both dropped simple passes that could’ve led to tries on their respective edge, granting the home side lifelines. 

After 11 minutes of constant pressure in their own half, Blacktown scored the first points through winger Ryan Garner in the corner with a sensational diving effort. Five-eighth Dean Matterson threw a looping cut-out pass that skipped two players to find Garner, giving him just enough space and time to force his way over for a four-point lead. 

Sea Eagles captain Jake Toby made a tough tackle 15 metres out from his line in the 17th minute to shut down a break in play from North Sydney as his side continued to hold out in defence. In their next defensive set, hooker Nathaniel Roache was unfortunately forced from the field with a HIA as utility Joe Tramontana came on to replace him. 

Off the back of another Bears error, Blacktown capitalised and scored in the 30th minute with a try from Jacob Sykes. The try came under lucky circumstances after a kick from Matterson was left to bounce twice by North Sydney’s Fitzgibbon, allowing for Sykes to catch the ball in front of the tryline to dive over. Faulalo converted from next to the posts for a 10-0 scoreline. 

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The Bears hit back through Smalley with just over five minutes to play in the first half, with the winger squeezing past a tackle to slam the ball down next to the corner post. Centre Kieran Hayman converted from the sideline to take the score to 10-6, with the home side taking a four-point lead into halftime. 

A massive break down the sideline from Fitzgibbon in the 43rd minute propelled his side downfield, searching for an answer to get themselves back into the match. Sykes made the tackle for the Sea Eagles to halt the momentum temporarily and Toby scooped up a low-bouncing grubber kick in the opposite corner a tackle later to win the ball back. 

Bears second-rower Elie El-Zakhem was sent to the sin-bin seven minutes later and Blacktown looked to score down the right edge with some dangerous attack, only to be taken over the sideline with some desperate defence. 

Smalley bagged his second try for North Sydney in the 57th minute after the ball was shifted quickly through the hands, freeing up the winger to score untouched after taking a tricky pass. Hayman converted from the sideline to give his side a 12-10 lead.  

Blacktown held on in defence for as long as they could but ultimately succumbed to fatigue, with Stevanovic crashing past a tackle to score in the 68th minute. Hayman converted to take his side’s lead out to eight points.  

Stevanovic scored his second try for North Sydney four minutes later to all but seal the match for the visitors. Prop Regan Hughes and fullback Josh Bregamin combined with short passes to push down field, with the latter setting up Stevanovic to score. Hayman converted from in front for a 24-10 scoreline. 

Faulalo scored a consolation try for Blacktown with just over three minutes of play remaining after timing his run to find a gap to crash over. He converted his own try to bring the score to 24-16. 

North Sydney centre Toa Mata’afa scored on the stroke of full-time after his side capitalised on an overlap on the right edge, strolling over to ground the ball. Hayman converted for a final scoreline of 30-16. 

Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles host the Canberra Raiders in Round 20 of the NSW Cup at 3pm on Sunday, July 16, at HE Laybutt Field, Blacktown.

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