A new-look Norths Devils stretched their first-round winning streak into a new year with a 40-10 demolition of Brisbane Tigers on the road tonight.
Eight Devils debutants featured in the seven-try win at Totally Workwear Stadium, marking Norths’ first match since their Round 1 win in Mackay last season.
Four of those tries went to the new faces – exciting fullback Reece Walsh scored twice while forwards Danny Levi and Piki Rogers also crossed as the Devils unloaded 30 unanswered points on the Tigers. Walsh kicked six conversions.
This is Rohan Smith’s fourth season as Devils coach and his teams have never lost a first-round match.
The Devils left Mackay last year excited about the new season before COVID cancelled the competition before another game was played – sparking a 371-day drought until tonight’s clash.
Smith fielded three 18-year-olds tonight – Walsh and promising forwards Brendan Piakura and Xavier Willison all impressed.
The youth was complemented by the experience of the likes of skipper Jack Ahearn, who was excellent in the halves, and Broncos centre Dale Copley while Levi constantly caused trouble for the Tigers in his Devils debut.
NRL veteran Leivaha Pulu, also on debut for the Devils, and Michael Sio helped to lead the young forwards as Norths took control of the match.
The match didn’t start as planned – a Devils’ short dropout rebounded into the hands of Tigers hooker Aaron Booth as the home team led 4-0 after four minutes.
But the Devils slipped into gear with Levi crossing in the 10th minute from dummy half for Norths’ first try of the season.
Backrower Brendan Frei scored twice – his first through a surging run down the left side that enabled Norths to stretch to a 12-4 lead.
And winger Tony Tumusa dropped into top gear to go the length of the field in the 33rd minute when he gathered a Tigers’ kick on the Devils line.
Walsh delivered two telling blows – he skipped through a gap to score close to the Tigers’ line in the 38th minute and opened the scoring in the second half when he pounced on a Tyson Gamble grubber to steer Norths ahead 28-10.
Smith said he was pleased with the Devils performance in different facets of the game.
“There were some positive moments in attack and defence and there was plenty of effort across the field,” Smith said.
“We know we’ve got plenty that we can work on. This was our first game of the season and we’ve got plenty ahead of us.”
Earlier in the day, the Devils won their Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup clash with Redcliffe Dolphins 26-22. The Dolphins won the Cyril Connell Challenge Under 16 match 26-18.
In Intrust Super Cup, the Devils return home on Sunday to take on Redcliffe while the Tigers travel to Townsville to meet the Blackhawks on Saturday.
NORTHS DEVILS 40 (Reece Walsh 2, Brendan Frei 2, Danny Levi, Tony Tumusa, Piki Rogers tries, Walsh 6 goals) bt BRISBANE TIGERS 10 (Aaron Booth, Mitch Frei tries, Booth goal) at Totally Workwear Stadium.