Norths Devils toppled competition leaders Burleigh for the second time this season, weathering a late Bears rush to win 28-24 at Pizzey Park tonight.
A period midway through the first half proved decisive for the Devils as they weathered three consecutive Burleigh sets on their own line.
When the Devils regained the ball, they moved downfield quickly, ending with fullback Jack Ahearn finding Zach Strasser for his first try for Norths.
That enterprise was typical of the style implemented by new Norths coach Rohan Smith. The Devils kicked clear when 37-year-old winger Namila Davui crossed in the 55th and 61st minutes.
But that 26-6 lead collapsed when Burleigh raced in tries to fullback Kurtis Rowe in the 65th and 67th minutes before a 74th minute try to replacement Kai O’Donnell set up a thrilling finish.
The Devils held firm, relaxing when an 80th minute penalty near the posts enabled interchange hooker Jack Miers to slot a penalty goal. That finished off a quality team performance for the Devils, who had good players across the park.
The loss was Burleigh’s fifth for the season and two of those have come against Norths.
“We had to defend a lot tonight when they had some repeat sets of six but we showed some toughness on our own line,” Smith said.
“That’s an important win for our season.”
Both teams entered the game without key injured players – the Devils’ have only three players who have been in all games this season after forward Oshae Tuiasau was a late withdrawal.
That opened the door for young forward Jordan Riki to become Devil No.1276 – and Norths’ 36th player for this season – and he showed promise as the game became desperate in the final minutes.
Guy Williams and Brandon Lee were important for the Devils tonight along with Sam Tagataese while skipper John Palavi and prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown soaked up key defensive work. Troy Dargan has led the backline well while his Broncos teammate Todd Murphy recovers from a hamstring injury.
The Devils have been well served by players who have been in and out of the team this year because of injury.
Chevi Ellis was strong in his first game after niggling problems. He scored the Devils’ first try in the 10th minute and laid on a brilliant kick for Davui’s first try.
The Devils return home next week to meet Central Queensland at Bishop Park on Saturday night.
Norths 28 (Namila Davui 2, Chevi Ellis, Zach Strasser, Guy Williams tries; Luke Pollock 3, Jack Miers goal) d Burleigh Bears 24 (Kurtis Rowe 2, Dylan Phythian, Kai O’Donnell tries; Josh Davis 3, Tyrone Roberts-Davis goal) at Pizzey Park.