Bears can’t hold attacking Lions

Lion Pride: James Duchatel throws a fend out to Wests fullback Dylan Lake with another defender around his legs as the Lions stunned the Bears in the final round on Sunday at Scully Park. The rivals will meet again in Sunday’s final.
Nanjing Night Net

West Lions coach Shane Rampling was over the moon but knows the job is only half doneafter his side pulled of the biggest coup this Group 4 season, leaving it until the final round to become the first team to beat North Tamworth.

The 44-32 victory set the perfect scene for Sunday’s major semi-final between the pair at Jack Woolaston Oval, while the Narrabri Blues beat Gunnedah 34-18at home to host Saturday’s minor semi-final, against Gunnedah.

The match at Scully Park was a topsy-turvy affair, that saw Norths score three unanswered tries before the Lions responded with the same to head into the sheds at 18-18 before scoring another unanswered triple in the second half before the Bears hit backto set up a tense finish.

It wasno coincidence that the victory came in the same round that Matt and Sean Nean and Kyle Cochrane took the field together for the first time this season after each served lengthy bans.

Cochrane had an instant impact up front, not only charging up the middle himself but providing plenty of confidence to the Lionspack who are a different unit with him involved.

Andrew Tapatoro, Phil Beaton and Mitch Dening were the other stand-outs in the physical Lions forwards, while the Neansjoined the likes of Chris Hunt, Sam Taylor, DJ Smith andDylan Lake in a dynamic backline.

“Matty brings a lot of good chat, enthusiasm and direction,” Rampling said.

“And Yum Yum (Cochrane) gotus going forward.”

“But we can’t get carried away they are going to be very hard to beat next week.”

Bears coachBrad McManus said that while it was disappointing to go down the loss will only motivate his side.

“They were just too good,” McManus said.“Maybe it was the wake up call we needed.”The Bears will host the major finals on Sunday.

Matt Nean

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