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Devils extend streak against Dolphins

Norths returned to Bishop Park today for a home-grown victory as the Devils extended their Intrust Super Cup winning streak against Redcliffe Dolphins.

The 26-24 win was a heart-stopper as the Dolphins scored three late tries before the Devils celebrated their second win from as many matches this season.

Bishop Park hadn’t hosted an Intrust Super Cup match for 18 months due to COVID shutting down last season and the virus was still causing problems today.

Recent infections in Brisbane meant that all NRL-contracted players were prevented from playing as a precautionary measure, leaving the Devils without their Broncos-affiliated players and the Dolphins without their New Zealand Warriors crew.

That meant an old-fashioned clash between players contracted to both clubs and the Devils came out firing in front of one of the largest home crowds in recent seasons.

Rashaun Denny and Jerome Veve made their debuts for Norths – making it 10 new Devils in the first two rounds – while Hiale Roycroft returned to the Devils’ top-grade team.

“We got the opportunity to bring some Devils signed guys into our team late when our affiliate players were ruled out and they all helped to contribute to a real Devils team win,” coach Rohan Smith said.

The ­Devils surged to a 20-point lead early in the second half, playing their entertaining style that led to a superb try to Brendan Frei, sweeping to the right and then back across to the left-hand side.

The Dolphins clawed back and had one final shot at victory. But a 79th minute penalty to the Devils for obstruction snuffed out Redcliffe’s hopes of stealing back the Steve Kavanagh Cup which is contested each times these rivals play.

The Devils have owned the Kav Cup since coach Smith and captain Jack Ahearn arrived at Bishop Park for the 2018 season. Both men marked their 50th games for the Devils today in style as Ahearn earned the player-of-the-match award for his direction of his team.

Ahearn had Norths cranking early with Piki Rogers and Danny Levi – both in their first home matches as Devils – combined to score in the sixth minute.

Levi’s pass from dummy half to a charging Rogers was a replay of the final try in round one eight days earlier when the Devils crunched the Brisbane Tigers.

When Levi crossed in the 36th minute from dummy-half, the Devils had unloaded 48 consecutive points in their first two matches without conceding a point.

Preston Riki broke that sequence in the 45th minute when he scored a try before the Devils crossed twice in three minutes – Calum Gahan scurried and stepped from dummy-half before centre Tony Tumusa finished off a Devils try on the right-hand side.

But the Dolphins got under the Devils’ guard in another twist in this long-standing rivalry. Three tries in 16 minutes gave the Dolphins one final shot that unravelled with the obstruction call.

The Devils will host Townsville Blackhawks in a top-of-the-table clash on April 10 while the Dolphins will host CQ Capras in their first home match of the season.

NORTHS DEVILS 26 (Piki Rogers, Brendan Frei, Danny Levi, Calum Gahan, Tony Tumusa tries, Bryce Donovan three goals) bt REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 24 (Preston Riki, Jeremy Hawkins, Lachlan Timm, Trai Fuller tries, Cameron Cullen four goals) at Bishop Park.

Photo credit: Vanessa Hafner / QRL Photos

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