NPL Preview here

STRONG START: Connor Evans celebrates a goal for new club Weston in round one. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

WESTON have not forgotten the 8-0 drubbing Lambton Jaffas gave them in the final round last season when a finals place was on the line.

New Bear Connor Evans, in a jovial way, has made sure of that.

The 20-year-old from Bateau Bay was part of the Jaffas rout, scoring a goal to help secure second place for Lambton and leave Weston’s finals fate in the hands of South Cardiff and Edgeworth.

The Bears scraped through and recovered to upset the Eagles before bowing out to Hamilton.

The Jaffas went on to a grand final defeat and have since bolstered their attack with the likes of Kale Bradbery, Luke Remington, Dino Fajkovic and Alex Palozzi.

Evans, meanwhile, has found a new home at Weston, who travel to Edden Oval today to take on the Jaffas with the sting of their 8-0 debacle still fresh.

‘‘I don’t let the boys live that down. I bring that up a fair bit if they are trying to be smart to me,’’ Evans laughed.

‘‘I give it to them even more because I scored against them as well, but they give it back because it got announced as Tommy Smart’s goal.

‘‘But they will be very keen to turn that loss around.

‘‘I think it’s the biggest loss a lot of the boys have ever had at that level.’’

Weston have made a strong start to 2014 under new coach Steve Piggott.

The Bears, celebrating 50 consecutive years in Northern NSW Football’s top league, defeated Lake Macaquarie 3-1 and drew 0-0 with defending premiers Magic last week.

Evans believes the Bears have a good mix of youth and experience and are profiting from Piggott’s work to bring a possession style to the club.

‘‘It’s a good style Piggo is trying to get Weston to play. It’s different to what they are used to, but the boys have adapted to it really well.

‘‘And everyone wants to play for each other. There’s good spirit in the shed.’’

The former West Wallsend and Lake Macquarie player came to the Bears after an unsuccessful trial at Bonnyrigg.

The Jaffas were keen to keep him, but he said the opportunity to play No.10 under Piggott and assistant coach Darren Sills, who coached Evans at the Bluebells, was too good to pass up.

‘‘I’d had Sillsy and Piggo as coaches before. They talked to me, and what they offered me out there, the position, that’s what I play and what I’ve played as a junior,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a great position, and having Cowby [Jason Cowburn] in behind and Mozz [Nathan Morris] in the middle, it makes it a bit easier.’’

Evans will face a stern test today against two of the most respected defensive midfielders in the league, former national league players Jobe Wheelhouse and Peter McPherson. But he said he and the Bears were ready for the challenge of taking on the star-studded Jaffas.

‘‘It will be interesting,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve played one year with each of them and I’ve obviously got a lot of respect for them. I’ve just got to try to stick to my game and the game plan and hopefully we get a win over them.

‘‘We came away with our heads held high last week, getting a point at Magic, and we probably should have got three. Hopefully we can continue that form and keep playing the football Steve wants us to play. Hopefully we can dominate through the midfield and this week finish a few goals.’’

Jaffas coach David Tanchevski said his side were braced for a committed Bears side today after the final-round rout the last time the sides met.

‘‘They are going well, by all accounts,’’ he said. ‘‘Piggo will bring a new style to them, and they were already a decent team last year.’’

Morris will be missing today for Weston due to a quadriceps injury and Garry McDermott will take his place. McPherson and Kevin Davison return from hamstring strains for the Jaffas.

Shamed Bears out to settle old score in NPL