NSW Cup Match Report: Mounties draw with Bears
For the second time this season Mounties and the North Sydney Bears have played out a draw in the VB NSW Cup and have had to settle with sharing the competition points after Mounties staged a thrilling come from behind effort on Saturday at North Sydney Oval.
Mounties got the jump on the home team when Mitch Cornish delivered a bullet like cutout pass to Gus Aiga in the 5th minute and the flying winger dived over for the opening points with Cornish's boot adding the extras to make it 6-0.
Soon after Jeff Lynch crossed the try line however the officials ruled him offside and the try was disallowed leaving Mounties players bewildered by the call.
In the 15th minute the Bears where awarded two straight penalties to get them down field and they were able to immediately convert their field position into points and level the scores at 6-6.
The Bears then made a fundamental error from the kickoff and Mounties made then pay for the mistake with Stuart Mills hitting a nice hole to dive over and make it 10-6 in Mounties favour after the conversion was waved away.
Play then went end to end for several sets with the Bears receiving the rub of the green and after forcing a goal line dropout from Mounties they were again able to convert field position to points and it was 10-10.
Norths then went on a scoring spree off the back of several contentious decisions and in the 34th and 36th minute they posted back to back tries after receiving several penalties to take a 22-10 lead into the half time break.
The home side continued their good fortune in the second half when a blatant knock on went unnoticed by the three officials and from the next play they crossed in the corned and extended their lead to 26-10.
In the 55th minute Jeremy Hawkins kept Mounties hopes alive when he beat a defender and sliced through the defence to cross the try line and improved the position to give Cornish an easy conversion and it was 26-16.
Mounties then started to play some expansive football however in the 64th minute an error saw the Bears race away with Jeff Lynch the hero and villain for Mounties when he chased down a line break making a try saving tackle only to be sin binned in the process leaving Mounties with 12 men for the next ten minutes.
Norths took the penalty conversion and with 15 minutes remaining they led 28-16.
Mounties defence then stepped up and forced the Bears into an error and off the back of the turnover Gus Aiga was able to dive over in the corner for his second try of the day and with a brilliant sideline conversion from Cornish Mounties were back in the contest down 28-22.
With time running down Josh McCrone found some space and put in a nice grubber for Bill Tupou however the Norths defence were on the spot and tapped the ball over the dead ball line. Despite the ruling of the linesman that the Bears were due a dropout the referee over ruled the call and gave the home team seven tackles from the 20 metre mark, much to the ire of the Mounties players.
Norths took advantage though and with 10 minutes remaining they scored in the corner and converted to make it 34-22 and the vocal home crowd applauded what they considered the match winning points.
Mounties never gave up though and after forcing another error out of the Bears it was McCrones short kicking game that proved the difference again when a reverse chip kick was plucked out of the air by debutant fullback Chevi Ellis who planted the ball and with another brilliant Cornish conversion it was 34-28 with five minutes to go.
The next few minutes were a scramble with the ball as Mounties tried hard to score a leveller and Norths were intent on closing down the game however it was Mounties who had the final say when Hawkins and Tupou combined in the 79th minute to score in the freeway corner to make it 34-32 and the outcome of the game then landed on the shoulders of Mitch Cornish.
With seconds remaining and the crowd doing their best to get into his head Cornish's boot struck the ball sweetly and it rocketed through the posts, raising the flags and making it 34 all and giving Mounties a much needed competition point.
Best for Mounties were Mark Nicholls, Lynch and Rhys Kennedy doing the job up front while Cornish, Stuart Mills and Gus Aiga led the way from the back.
In the Ron Massey Cup Mounties proved to good for Burwood running out convincing winners by 42-16 while in the Sydney Shield Mounties had a great win by defeating Belrose by 34-16.
Mounties have the bye next week in the VB NSW Cup while the Massey Cup and Sydney Shield teams play Wests at Mounties Sports Ground.
North Sydney Bears 34 (L Schaumkel 3, C Walker, K Auva'a, D Nicholls tries; Nicholls 5 goals) drew with Mounties 34 (G Aiga 2, C Ellis, B Tupou, S Mills, J Hawkins tries; M Cornish 5 goals)