Isabelle Kelly crossed twice in the final ten minutes of the match at North Sydney Oval, but it wasn't enough to collect the win for CRL Newcastle. Image via NRL Media.

A late Isabelle Kelly double wasn’t enough to save CRL Newcastle as they fell to the North Sydney Bears in an edgy 10-8 battle on Sunday morning at North Sydney Oval.

The Bears had the first say in the third round contest, with winger Sera Kaukiono crossing for a rare try in the 18-point clash. North Sydney stretched the lead to six with Kirra Dibb’s slotting the wide out conversion to the cheers for the home crowd.

The game dissolved into an arm-wrestle as the Bears kept hold of their tenous 6-nil lead, with neither side able to break the deadlock until Jillaroos star Kelly was able to find an opening to record Newcastle’s first four-pointer of the afternoon after 50 minutes.

Trailing by just two points with the missed conversion kick, Newcastle rolled on, but it was the Bears that would have success in the defensive-focused game – the home side again found success down Newcastle’s right edge, and strong centre Shontelle Stowers nosed her way over the line to reinstate her side’s six point lead.

With the seconds draining away, Kelly had a final say in the clash, grabbing her second down Newcastle’s left wing, but the wide conversion proved too difficult for young kicker Skye Pullman, with the result falling two-points against Rick Stone’s travelling squad.

The victorious Bears celebrated ‘Old Bears Day’ at North Sydney Oval as they downed Newcastle in the two-point thriller.  Image via North Sydney Bears.

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The defeat – Newcastle’s second in their opening three weeks – drops the Hunter representatives into the mixer in the NSW Women’s Premiership standings. Stone’s team now sits seventh with their 1-2 record, hovering just above the finals cutoff line on point difference.

The state competition now breaks for two weeks, with CRL Newcastle’s next fixture slated for the final weekend of April. The Novocastrian ladies will welcome the Wentworth Magpies (currently 1-1 in 2019) to St Johns Oval on Saturday, April 27.

North Sydney Bear 10 (Sera Kaukiono, Shonelle Stowers tries; Kirra Dibb conversion) def. CRL Newcastle 8 (Isabelle Kelly 2 tries)