Rugby league: North Tamworth Bears make it 29 straight home wins with Narrabri Blues thumping

NO HOLDS BARRED: Blues prop Daniel Jobson collides with Bears halfback Kieran Fisher as Shane Wadwell looms. Photo: Mark Bode
NO HOLDS BARRED: Blues prop Daniel Jobson collides with Bears halfback Kieran Fisher as Shane Wadwell looms. Photo: Mark Bode

It’s called Jack Woolaston Oval or Bear Park. But there is another name that would be apt for North Tamworth’s home ground given the side's winning streak there: The Graveyard.

In the grand final reply against Narrabri on Sunday, Norths padded one of the region’s most impressive contemporary sporting accomplishments when they extended their undefeated home-ground sequence to 29 with a commanding 48-14 win.

In that time the Bears have won three straight grand finals at the ground, their last home loss a 30-28 defeat to West Lions in round three in 2015.

IN THE ZONE: Blues halfback Josh Tindall looks to spark something. Photo: Mark Bode

IN THE ZONE: Blues halfback Josh Tindall looks to spark something. Photo: Mark Bode

To keep the run going, Norths took Narrabri’s best shots – and there were some good ones – before emphatically rebounding from the disappointment of the shock 30-20 loss to Kootingal-Moonbi in the previous round and loudly proclaiming to their rivals that their self-belief and sting remain intact.

Bears captain Scott Blanch, in his first season coaching the side, was the ringmaster on the left edge, where most of the side’s tries were scored. Blanch and fullback Colby La Chiusa both bagged a double.

Commenting on the winning sequence, Blanch said: “Obviously you’ve got that pride in your home ground. There’s a lot of traditional, a lot of pride here. So we probably play off the back of that a little bit.”

“[We’re] obviously pretty proud of that record and hopefully we can keep it intact,” he added.

For about 50 minutes of Sunday’s clash, it looked like Narrabri might end the winning run, in what was an exciting and intense period of play.

Blues lock Lachlan Cameron responded to tries by Blanch and winger Heath Falkenmire. And then Blues prop Chris Morris countered a Jake McManus touchdown, when at speed he held on to a pass well in front of him to dive over in the right-hand corner.

Narrabri halfback Josh Tindall, a live wire in the opening 40 minutes, booted a penalty goal from 40 metres out just before halftime to put the exclamation mark on the Blues’ excellent first 40 minutes and hand them a 14-12 lead at the break.

The visitors displayed great tryline defence in the opening stages of the second half before a typically relentless Bears onslaught proved too much.

When Norths immediately countered a Blues attacking raid on their tryline with a strong close-range try to prop Shane Wadwell, which was quickly followed by his front-row partner James Cooper crashing over under the posts, Narrabri wilted badly.

Blanch said: “Obviously last round [against the Roosters] was a tough match and we responded well today. We knew if we hung in there we've got a good second half in us. We showed that last week. We came back in the second half.”