Norths Devils erased a rare blind spot in club’s proud history with a gripping Intrust Super Cup win over the Townsville Blackhawks at Bishop Park today.
The Devils – who own a record six consecutive Brisbane premierships and have developed some of the state’s greatest players – had never beaten the Blackhawks until today’s 27-24 win.
The game was only decided in the final seconds after Townsville received a penalty on the Devils’ line with two seconds remaining.
The Blackhawks scrambled but spilled the ball, leaving the Devils to erase the disappointment of last Sunday’s loss to Easts.
It was at least the second time this season that the Devils had knocked off the competition leaders and their list of scalps is now impressive – heavyweights Townsville, Burleigh (twice), Redcliffe, Easts, PNG and Souths Logan (twice) have all fallen to Rohan Smith’s men.
Today’s team win pushed the Devils back into the top six, at least temporarily until Round 21 is completed.
But it wasn’t an easy afternoon for the strong Saturday crowd at Bishop Park.
They exhaled when Jack Ahearn’s 67th minute field goal pushed Norths clear 27-14 against a Blackhawks team that struggled to go through its gears.
That followed tries to strong prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (51st minute), centre Luke Pollock (54th minute) and winger Paul Ulberg (63rd minute) that propelled the Devils from 10-14 trailers to comfortable leaders.
But the Blackhawks rebounded with former Devil Krys Freeman crossing from dummy half before Zac Santo’s try two minutes later threatened to change the course of the game.
The Devils defended desperately, setting themselves for a run to the finals with remaining matches against Wynnum (away), Mackay (away) and Ipswich (home).
Bronco Todd Murphy was named the player of the match by Channel Nine after orchestrating a confident Devils attack against a team that had won seven of its last eight matches.
Murphy, Troy Dargan and Guy Williams – who have all had Bronco connections during their careers – caused constant problems for the Blackhawks.
Murphy pumped his fist when he scored the opening try in the sixth minute, sparking an excellent return for the high-quality player after he suffered a hamstring injury during the Round 14 win over Redcliffe.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was at Bishop Park and would have been pleased with the contributions of his players including Sam Tagataese and centre Gehamat Shibasaki.
The Blackhawks lost former Devils prop Francis Molo after nine minutes when he suffered an exposed finger dislocation.
Norths Devils 27 (Luke Pollock 2, Todd Murphy, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Paul Ulberg tries, Murphy 2, Herbie Farnworth goals, Jack Ahearn field goal) d Townsville Blackhawks 24 (Jaelen Feeney 2, Andrew Davey, Krys Freeman, Zac Santo tries, Zach Dokar-Clay 2 goals) at Bishop Park.