In the midday sun, the Norths Devils withstood waves of attack from Tweed Seagulls to win a tough Hostplus Cup clash 13-4 at Runaway Bay today.
In their 90th season, the Devils played at Runaway Bay for the first time and traded on tough defence and two first-half tries to secure their second win from three matches.
Only two points were scored in the second half – a penalty goal to Tyrone Roberts with two minutes remaining.
The second half was an arm wrestle. Tweed dominated field position and possession but could not crack the Devils’ line.
Tweed’s sole try came from a kick to the corner in the 13th minute that brought the scores to 6-4 in favour of the Devils after an early try to Brendan Frei.
This was a day that the premiers had to scramble as hooker Kierran Moseley marked his 100th Cup match.
But they maintained their record as the best defensive team in the competition after three games, bringing their total points conceded to 31.
Matthew Milson played on the wing for the first time since he was 15 after Brayden McGrady withdrew because of Covid complications.
Popular Devil Leivaha Pulu played his first game of the season after returning from New Zealand while Frei was back in the starting team, capping his return from a serious knee injury.
Broncos half Tyson Gamble left the field in the second half to receive treatment to a facial cut that required six stitches.
He returned later in the match as the Devils’ cool heads delivered a treasured win.
This game between two 2021 finalists deserved better than a high noon start before a small crowd.
The game had been moved twice after recent rains.
The Devils did not have a changeroom to gather in at halftime or for almost half an hour after the game as facilities were juggled for later games.
But Norths coach Rohan Smith said his players forgot about those disruptions.
“It was a tough game and we were forced to work hard by a good team,” Smith said.
“We had players adjusting to new things but they approached that well.
“There’s a long way to go in this season and we know that we have to improve.”
The Devils started well as Roberts scorched through a gap in the sixth minute but the raid broke down.
The Devils were away again in the ninth minute when Gamble scooped up a Seagulls attacking kick and sped down the field. Frei scored at the end of that set.
Norths’ defensive attitude was on display after Tweed’s 13th minute try. From the restart, the Seagulls received a penalty and two six-again plays but the Devils withstood the pressure.
Rashaun Denny crossed in the corner in the 36th minute in a move featuring Roberts in the halves.
The Devils return home next Sunday to take on Souths Logan Magpies.
NORTHS DEVILS 13 (Brendan Frei, Rashaun Denny tries, Tyrone Roberts 2 goals, field goal) bt TWEED SEAGULLS 4 (Sosefo Fifita try) at Bycroft Oval, Runaway Bay.