Norths Devils will move into the second stage of their pre-season trials on Saturday night buoyed by a positive first step into 2019.
The Devils looked sharp last Saturday night as all four grades took on Wynnum in the opening trial matches of the season at Wynnum Juniors’ home ground.
The nature of the Intrust Super Cup squad’s 40-24 win over Wynnum, following on from the BRL team’s 36-0 demolition of the Seagulls, suggested that the Devils were moving well into the new season.
That will be tested again on Saturday when defending premiers Redcliffe Dolphins arrive at Bishop Park for another full slate of trials across all grades – Intrust Super Cup, Brisbane Rugby League, Hastings Deering Colts (Under 20) and Mal Meninga Cup (Under 18).
ISC Coach Rohan Smith was pleased with the Devils’ first hitout as the wins in the open-age matches followed on from an encouraging victory by the Mal Meninga Cup team. The Colts had plenty of positive points despite losing their first outing since their premiership win.
“It was pleasing to see things moving in the right direction in our first trial,” Smith said.
“We saw a lot of genuine competition for positions. A lot of people put their hands up for selection and that’s encouraging as we continue towards the season.”
The development of the Devils’ squad in Smith’s first 12 months as coach was noticeable on Saturday night.
Smith made his debut as Devils coach at the same ground 12 months ago, when a new squad was trying to adapt to the coach’s innovative style of football.
That style has been embraced by the Devils, whose sharp ball movement speared holes in the Wynnum defence last Saturday night.
The Intrust Super Cup squad surged in the second half, piling on five unanswered tries as a 10-20 halftime deficit became a comfortable 40-20 lead late in the match.
The BRL team was never troubled with a 36-0 win in a match in which conversions were not taken.
“The trial at Wynnum Juniors last year was a positive experience with a lot of players having their first game for Norths,” Smith said.
“We’ve got a lot of new players again this year but we’re not starting from scratch.
“This year there is a lot more clarity on what is expected and there has been a lot more ownership from our players. They are really driving our key messages.”
On the nature of Saturday night’s performances, Smith will face a difficult selection for key places when the Intrust Super Cup season begins in four weeks.
But he will receive more insight into his squad when the Dolphins come to Bishop Park this Saturday night.
Game times Saturday 16 February 2019 – all trial games versus Redcliffe – 2.30pm: Mal Meninga Cup. 4pm: Hastings Deering Colts. 5.30pm: BRL. 7pm: Intrust Super Cup.