Paul Ulberg has made more than 300 runs for Norths this year but none more important than the 56th minute burst tonight that propelled the Devils to a tight 26-20 Intrust Super Cup win over the Central Queensland Capras tonight.
Ulberg sliced through when the Devils needed it most after the Capras stunned them with a 16-14 lead late on Old Boys’ Day at Bishop Park.
Ulberg has the second-most runs in the competition this year and his midfield charge led to a try by Michael Sio that pushed the Devils to a winning lead, ensuring they would at least host a home final in two weeks.
The Devils now have a 15-7 win-loss record and have sealed fifth place, with fading hopes of gaining a top-four spot.
Earlier, the Devils sealed a finals spot in the Hastings Deering Colts with a 44-14 win over the Capras before a boisterous crowd.
The Old Boys’ Day celebrated the 1959 and 1969 premiership wins that bookended the most dominant era in Brisbane’s rugby league history. The Devils won eight of the 11 premierships, starting with the team that Clive Churchill led as captain-coach.
It’s been seven years since the Devils have been to the finals but they have surged back into the post-season with comprehensive away wins over the Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters in the last two weeks.
They were at shorts odds to topple the Capras – the Devils had won the last 14 matches between the teams – but sport doesn’t work out as planned.
The Devils made too many mistakes in the first half against a resilient Capras team but still led 14-6 at halftime.
The Capras ambushed them in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring two tries including an excellent 70-metre effort by Gabe Hamson that stunned the crowd and left the visitors ahead 16-14.
But Ulberg’s burst provided the catalyst for the Devils to reclaim the lead with Sio’s try followed by an excellent right-side move from halfback Troy Dargan to Riley Leota and a charging Jordan Riki who crashed over for the winning try.
The Devils finished the night on the hill with the Old Boys, joining them in the club song.
The celebration was welcomed by some of the oldest Devils as much as the close result will help to focus the current team for the next games.
The Devils head to Kougari Oval next Sunday to close the regular season before their first taste of finals since 2012.
Five-eighth Kobe Hetherington was solid in his Intrust Super Cup debut, replacing Sean O’Sullivan who featured for the Broncos in their clash with South Sydney last night.
NORTHS DEVILS 26 (Calum Gahan, Ethan Bullemor, Michael Sio, Jordan Riki tries, Connor Broadhurst five goals) d CQ CAPRAS 20 (Nathan Bassani, Jack Madden, Gabe Hamson, BJ Aufaga-Toomaga tries, Aufaga-Toomaga 2 goals) at Bishop Park.