HEAD TO HEAD | North Sydney Bears

58 matches [1967-1996; 1998-1999]

27 wins, 29 losses, 2 draws

Stats: themightypanthers.com/results_headtohead_northsydney.htm

The North Sydney Bears were one of the foundation teams that played in the first Sydney premiership season in 1908.

Penrith’s first meeting with Norths was at North Sydney Oval on ANZAC Day 1967. The Panthers just a few days beforehand had upset the defending premiers St. George at Penrith Park, but were not able to back that performance up, with the Bears winning 18-6. Later in the season at Penrith Park, Penrith had led 12-2 in the second half before a late surge from North Sydney saw them salvage a 12-all draw.

Penrith would defeat Norths for the first time at Penrith Park early in the 1968 season, overcoming a 10-8 half time deficit to run away with the match in the second half with a comfortable 31-12 victory. The return match at North Sydney was yet another victory to the Panthers, winning 16-7.

Norths would have the better of Penrith throughout the 1970s, with the Bears winning 12 of the 20 contests from 1970 to 1979., including 7 from 8 from 1974 to 1977. The solitary victory to Penrith in that run was a big one – a 43-9 annihilation at Penrith Park in the opening round of the 1976 season, which would be at the time the Panthers biggest ever winning margin (a record that would stand until 1986), and would remain the Panthers biggest ever win against North Sydney.

Fortunes would flip in the 1980s and into the early 1990s, winning 16 of the 24 meetings, including one draw at Penrith Park in 1985. This would include eight straight wins from 1988 to 1991.

The two wins in 1991 hold special significance in that it was at the peak of their rivalry.

At Penrith Park in late June, it was a top of the table battle as second placed Norths visited the ladder leading Panthers. In an absorbing battle, it was 0-all until the 69th minute, with a penalty conversion breaking the deadlock, and then a Greg Alexander try two minutes from full time sealing the result. Later in the year, they would meet again, this time in the semi final at the Sydney Football Stadium. In another epic encounter, the Panthers snuck home 16-14 to qualify for their second consecutive grand final, but would consider themselves extremely lucky as the Bears actually scored 3 tries to 2, but Penrith had the superior goal kicking success rate.

Norths would win the next 7 matches from 1992 to 1998, but excluding 1997 as the Bears played in the ARL whilst the Panthers participated in the Super League.

By 1999, the Bears had plans to relocate from North Sydney to the Central Coast. Whilst not known at the time, the Panthers broke the Bears streak with a tight 20-18 victory at Penrith Park in April in what would be the final meeting between the two clubs.

Later in the season, North Sydney would enter into a merger with bitter rivals and neighbours Manly to create the Northern Eagles. However, as a nasty postscript, the merger collapsed at the end of 2002, with Manly taking over the licence, and hence the return of the Sea Eagles.

The Bears remain today in the lower grades, and has more recently acted as the feeder team to South Sydney in the Intrust Super Premiership.

The Bears intend to one day return to the NRL, preferably on the Central Coast as an expansion team but has recently expressed an interest in taking over the licence for struggling NRL clubs, such as the Gold Coast Titans.

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