We’ve hit halfway in the Intrust Super Cup season and after an off-season of change and rejuvenation, Sunday’s win over the Redcliffe Dolphins brought together all elements we have been working on through the first half of the season.
Trailing the premiership favourites 4-18, the Devils put on four tries in the last 27 minutes to run out 28-20 winners in front of a noisy crowd at Bishop Park.
The win gave us a 7-6 win-loss record and kept us in sixth place, providing a confidence boost ahead of Saturday’s trip to Tweed Heads for the clash with the Seagulls. That match will be live on Channel 9 from 1pm.
Here is a summary of the season so far:
Six of the best: We’ve stayed in the top six throughout the season. Our blistering start – six wins out of the opening seven rounds – helped us offset a four-match losing streak through May. Those losses included some heartbreakers in the final minutes but that’s footy. We will learn from those results.
Big-game players: The Devils have proudly stood up to the big tests: we have beaten Burleigh, Souths Logan, Easts and Redcliffe in the first half of the season. With Townsville, those teams make up the top five premiership favourites with Ladbrokes.
New faces: This Devils team looks very different to previous seasons. We brought in our new coach Rohan Smith during the off-season – his appointment drew interest across the Intrust Super Cup. Rohan has been busy rebuilding the Devils. In the first half of the season, we have fielded 18 new ISC Devils players. They join the 1255 men who have proudly worn the Devils jersey since our first season in 1933.
Crowded house: The combination of injuries and new faces means that Norths have used more players this season than any other club. The selection of Jack Miers and Michael Lucas last Sunday meant we had used 33 players so far this season. It’s a testament to the bond being formed at the club that this large number hasn’t prevented us from remaining in the top six.
Welcome back, old boy: Namila Davui has been one of a great Intrust Super Cup stories this season. Namila is back playing good football for us at age 36 – his fingertip regather and pass last Sunday was crucial in the try that pushed us ahead and turned the game against Redcliffe. Namila retired four years ago after a long career to concentrate on family and work. He still managed to squeeze in some acting – you can see him as an extra in the Thor: Ragnarok movie. But he decided to give footy one more go this season. We’re glad he did. He made his debut in this competition three years before any other current player in our squad.
Young guns: The next wave of Devils emerged during our Mal Meninga Cup season for the Under 18s. We were undefeated throughout the season, only to fall in a thrilling grand final 18-16 against Souths Logan. Some of our Under 18s have already graduated to our Hastings Deering Colts Under 20 team, which is travelling nicely towards the semi-finals.
The next level: The Intrust Super Cup develops players for the NRL. We have proudly watched our former Devil Sam Tagataese play for us and the Brisbane Broncos this season. Sam is one of four Broncos-contracted players who has featured strongly in our Intrust Super Cup season.
Origin breeding ground: When the 17-man squad for Queensland’s State of Origin series was named, we proudly counted eight players as former Norths players where all made their grade debuts at Bishop Park: Devil #942 Billy Slater; #1004 Will Chambers; #1006 Greg Inglis; #1113 Ben Hunt; #1116 Josh McGuire; #1154 Andrew McCullough; #1165 Jarrod Wallace; #1222 Jai Arrow.
I want to thank all our sponsors and fans for the great support so far in 2018 and also congratulate the coaches, staff and players for their efforts to get us to the half way mark of the year with our ISC team in the top six.