Norths rode the emotion generated by the loss of four late premiership players as they stormed home to beat Redcliffe in today’s Intrust Super Cup clash at Bishop Park.
The Devils outscored the Dolphins 24-2 in the last 27 minutes, stealing the lead in the 73rd minute with their best try of the season.
When captain John Palavi strolled in for a 77th minute try, Norths had turned a 4-18 deficit into a commanding 28-20 win.
The victory snapped the Devils’ six-game losing streak against the Dolphins and delivered the Kav Cup to Bishop Park. The late Steve Kavanagh played and coached for Norths and Redcliffe and the teams now play for a trophy in his honour.
But the Devils were also stirred by the memories of four players who had passed away since the last home game. Don Simpson, Mal Breen, Bob Poulsen and Devils legend Fonda Metassa were remembered before the game.
All four had played in the Devils’ historic premiership run from 1959 to 1969 including some memorable clashes with Redcliffe.
And the Devils then set about honouring Metassa’s legacy with a try that would have done the Golden Greek proud.
Down 16-20 with seven minutes remaining, Norths five-eighth Troy Dargan kicked down the left-hand side for 36-year-old winger Namila Davui, whose fingertip regather found centre Gehamat Shibasaki for a brilliant try.
The Dolphins’ flickering hopes were erased when interchange hooker Jack Miers split the defence in the 77th minute, finding Palavi in support for a try that brought a huge cheer from the Devils’ fans.
The win was sweet for Norths after they had lost close matches to Ipswich and Sunshine Coast in recent weeks.
Norths’ four-match losing streak had prompted bookmakers to send the Devils’ into third-last place in premiership betting, with Redcliffe installed as premiership favourites.
“That win meant a lot because we had lost some close games and we knew we were better than that,” Palavi said.
“We wanted to pay our respect to those players who had gone before us and had passed since our last home game. We are aware of the great history of this club.
“And to win like that in front of our home crowd also meant a lot to us. We know that beating Redcliffe means a lot to them.”
Devils fullback Jack Ahearn was excellent in his first game against his former team, combining well with returning winger Michael Lucas for a try in the 53rd minute.
Ahearn’s kick sat up perfectly for Lucas, whose 48th try for the Devils’ was a nice reward after a long injury break. His last game had been against Redcliffe at Bishop Park last year before the Devils’ off-season overhaul delivered new coach Rohan Smith and a stack of new players.
The Devils had trailed 4-12 at halftime and then fell further behind when Redcliffe bench player Nathan Watts crossed in the 44th minute.