Norths coach Rohan Smith said the strength of the Intrust Super Cup was underlined by the Devils’ loss to Mackay Cutters at Bishop Park.
The 26-10 result was a surprise to bookmakers, who had the Devils short-priced favourites after they had claimed second spot with a 6-2 win-loss record.
A try in the second minute to winger Sam Wright proved a false dawn for Devils supporters as Mackay raced in five tries, including a 73rd minute solo effort to halfback Nicho Hynes.
“Every game is a big game for us and Mackay have shown they are a good attacking team. They had five line breaks in the first half against Tweed Heads last week and today they executed very well,” Smith said.
“This competition is like that. Any team can win a game especially if the other team is not playing at its best.
“We didn’t take our chances today. We had multiple opportunities in the first half and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Mackay ran in four unanswered tries including a 43rd minute effort by Cutters hooker Jayden Hodges which deflated the Devils’ hopes of a second-half fightback.
Danny Kerr’s try in the right corner in the 67th minute provided the Devils’ only points of the second half.
The Devils have a bye next week before another televised game against the Jets at Ipswich in two weeks.
“Overall we’ve had a positive start to the year,” Smith said. “We’ve shown that we’ve been able to learn from week to week and there’s a long way to go this season. We will continue to learn as the year goes on.”
Mackay Cutters 26 (Sheldon Bobbert, Nck Brown, Jayden Hodges, Darcy Cox, Nicho Hynes tries; Hynes 3 goals) d Norths Devils 10 (Sam Wright, Danny Kerr tries; Todd Murphy goal) at Bishop Park