The Norths Devils unleashed another strong defensive effort tonight to dismantle the Townsville Blackhawks 22-10 in their Intrust Super Cup clash at Bishop Park.
The Devils’ attacking style has been a talking point since coach Rohan Smith took over for the 2018 season, proving difficult for some opponents to handle when Norths have shifted the ball.
But the Devils put a price on their defence and it has shown in recent weeks as they have surged to a 5-2 start to the season.
The Devils allowed only one try against PNG Hunters two weeks ago while Ipswich scored twice against them last weekend. Tonight, a Blackhawks team stacked with NRL experience scored twice – both from Devils’ errors including a 77th minute consolation try.
In response, the Devils unleashed four of their own tries to delight a strong Easter Saturday crowd at Bishop Park.
That crowd roared its loudest when teenaged prop Ethan Bullemor split the Blackhawks in the 51st minute, steaming more than 40 metres to score beneath the posts.
It was Bullemor’s second try of the night and another reason why the Broncos-contracted kid from Springsure is a player to watch.
That try pushed the Devils to a 22-6 lead which they held well with their defence despite the slippery conditions. The rain held off for the match but the downpours earlier in the day meant that the teams had to adjust.
The Devils did that best, with winger Paul Ulberg opening the scoring when he sliced over from dummy half in the 12th minute.
From the restart, the Devils showed that attacking style that has blossomed under Smith. Skipper Jack Ahearn split the Blackhawks for a long-range run, ending with impressive Broncos half Sean O’Sullivan linking with PNG international Nixon Putt for a slick try.
Winger Herbie Farnworth, among the best tonight in a quality team performance for Norths, brought up 50 points for the season.
Bullemor’s first try in the 34th minute pushed the Devils to a 16-6 halftime lead that proved too much for the Blackhawks to reel in. Devils backrower Brandon Lee, playing his 49th ISC match, delivered some of the best hits in defence including two that forced turnovers close to the Devils’ line.
The Blackhawks’ 24th minute try to backrower and Norths junior Tom Gilbert kept the visitors within sight of the lead but the game had got away by the time Kalifa Faifai Loa pounced on a dropped ball, chipping ahead to score in the left corner.
That left only 80 seconds remaining in the match, enough for the Devils to consolidate their position near the top of the ladder.