The Norths Devils sealed a winning start to their Intrust Super Cup season when captain Jack Ahearn planned and executed a 79th minute field goal against the Cutters in Mackay tonight.
Ahearn admitted his kick wasn’t as sweet as he’d hoped but it speared through the posts to give the Devils a 23-22 win in a fluctuating clash.
It was a perfect end to an eventful night for Norths, who sped to a 10-4 lead when five-eighth Harry Freebairn – one of five new Devils tonight – scored in the 12th and 15th minutes.
Kumuls forward Nixon Putt scored from the return set off the back of winger Paul Ulberg’s midfield break to send the Devils ahead 14-4.
But early-season errors, penalties and a determined Cutters team led to scores being tied 22-all with seven minutes remaining.
The Devils had to capitalise on a Mackay error on halfway in the 78th minute before they could mount the last-chance raid to seal their win.
Ahearn didn’t wait until the last tackle, instead getting into an ideal position and calling the ball back from the left-hand side to slot a field goal that silenced the strong Cutters home crowd.
“It wasn’t the best kick but it got the result and that’s what we were chasing,” Ahearn said.
“They’re always a team that challenges you and we had to hang in there and wait for that chance.
“It’s good to get that win because we didn’t make things easy for ourselves tonight but we were able to find a way out of it.”
The Devils were forced to dig deep when forward Jordan Riki left the field in the 12th minute with a knee injury.
His Broncos squad mate Ethan Bullemor, returning to the ground where he made his Intrust Super Cup debut, ate up plenty of minutes from the bench as the Devils tried to extend their lead.
But Cowboys hooker Reuben Cotter scored in the 25th and 40th minutes, either side of a Brendan Frei try, as the Devils edged to a 20-14 halftime lead.
Halfback Bryce Donovan – another new Devil tonight along with centre Brandon Manase, winger Tony Tumusa and forward Stedman Lefau – kicked a penalty goal in the 54th minute to give the visitors a 22-14 lead.
“The boys looked like they were enjoying that last 10 minutes even though the game was tight,” coach Rohan Smith said.
“It’s been an eventful week so it was pleasing that we were able to execute that way in the end and win the moment.”
The Devils were forced into a late change when winger Herbie Farnworth was called into the Broncos team to play the Cowboys last night.
Earlier tonight, the Devils made a winning start to the Hastings Deering Colts competition with two late tries against the strong breeze in a 22-18 victory.
The Colts also survived a tough ending to the match, withstanding late errors to hold out the Cutters.
The Devils’ Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup Under 18 team took positives out of a 28-20 loss to the Cutters in the opening match of the day.
NORTHS DEVILS 23 (Harry Freebairn 2, Nixon Putt, Brendan Frei tries, Bryce Donovan three goals, Jack Ahearn field goal) d MACKAY CUTTERS 22 (Reuben Cotter 2, Yamba Bowie, Luke Polselli tries, Cooper Bambling 2 goals, Bowie goal) at BB Print Stadium, Mackay.