A CONTROLLED and composed North Tamworth Bears ended West Lions’ unbeaten Group 4 run with a 22-18 win at Scully Park on Saturday that re-opened the minor premiership race.
The Bears are just one point adrift of West Lions with three rounds remaining and were deserving winners in a game which turned nasty at various stages, with four sin-binnings in a game which threatened to ignite on three or four separate
The Bears showed much more composure and plenty of ticker to remain calm and produce a stirring win in a game they led from the outset.
Two pinpoint accurate kicks from Bears half Mick Watton, one a grubber and the other a cross field kick, allowed winger Scott Dwyer to score two tries and give the Bears a 10-nil lead.
When Bears captain-coach Shaun Ferguson scurried over from dummy half it was out to 16-nil before the spluttering mistake-riddled competition leaders hit back from a Matt Nean grubber to make it 16-6 at the break.
Watton tormented the Lions again straight after the break to score a good individual try and make it 22-6 as the Bears bunkered down to repel a Lions charge.
It did come, with tries from Luke White and Sean Nean, but the Lions failed to take some good opportunities which included a 10-minute spell where Bears lock Shane Wadwell was sin-binned for a late tackle on Beau White after he scored a brilliant try from a Brendan Hunt kick.
Hunt and Ferguson had been sin-binned in the first half after one of the best man-on-man stinks seen at Scully for a while and then Nean’s discipline deserted him once again when the young halfback was sin-binned late in the first half for throwing a flurry of paperweight punches at North centre Richard Clegg.
Ferguson was elated with the victory and his side celebrated that win and the 31st birthday of prop Kye Ruru with gusto in the sheds after the game.
“It’s what we needed,” Ferguson said.
“A real character-building win that. I’m proud of all the boys – it was a great team effort.
“We had no errors in the first half, completed all our sets and made the one-on-one tackles we had to.”
Props Ruru and Tim Fenwick were strong, with Ruru winning The Northern Daily Leader Group 4 Best and Fairest points from the refs and also the Bears’ players’ player on his 31st birthday.
Wadwell niggled and outsmarted the Lions, with Ferguson, Watton and centre Andrew Moodie constant threats.
West was terrible in the first half.
“I can’t believe they only beat us by four points,” Tony La Chiusa said of his side which committed almost every football sin you can.
“I don’t think there was an error we didn’t make.
“We’ve been training really well but it was one of those games where we made every fundamental basic error.
“We made at least 12 errors from dummy half. It was a team effort too.
“We had our chances to win it too and mucked that up as well.”
While La Chiusa thought their worst error was to panic, their biggest blight was to react to some niggle with some nasty replies.
West’s best were little hooker Ben Crowley and prop Scott Rolls, who was injured late in a heavy tackle.
Centre Sean Nean and winger Adam Ruttley also made plenty of yardage but a lot of the West infiltrations were marred by silly final passes.
It was their worst effort of the season in a big game that could have guaranteed the minor premiership and a home major semi-final.