Norths’ Under 18 heartbreak extended into a new season as a courageous Devils went down to Souths Logan Magpies in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup semi-final today.
The Devils produced moments of brilliance in the second half but the undefeated Magpies unloaded two late tries to seal a 26-24 win at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The last try came with two minutes remaining, reviving memories of the 2018 Mal Meninga Cup final when the Magpies, led by David Fifita and featuring Tesi Niu and Tanah Boyd, toppled a Devils team, including Jordan Riki, Ethan Bullemor and Cory Paix, by two points.
The Devils had lost Under 18 grand finals in 2014, 2016 and 2018 so they had built a legacy of featuring deep into seasons.
This year promised the same under coach Shayne Boyd – father of Tanah – who helped to mould this promising Devils squad into finals contenders despite late injuries.
The Magpies were always a test, inflicting the Devils’ first loss of the season two weeks ago.
They sped to a 16-6 lead at halftime today with the aid of a stiff Sunshine Coast breeze.
But the Devils got that wind in their sails for an absorbing second half that had spectators on the edge of their seats.
There were plenty of memorable moments.
Kallum Weatherall-Stacey blasted a dropout 82m before a scrambling Magpies knocked on as they tried to prevent the ball from bouncing over the sideline 13 minutes into the second half.
Three minutes later, centre Shannon Subritzky Stewart prevented a certain Magpies try when he knocked the ball loose over the line.
Tahrell Feaveai produced one of several desperate Devils tackles to hold the Magpies up over the line three minutes after Subritzky Stewart’s lunge.
The Devils were down to 12 men when Jalen Afamasaga placed a pinpoint kick for Weatherall-Stacey to score with nine minutes remaining.
That pushed Norths to a 24-18 lead but the Magpies stormed back with tries to Blake Mozer (66th minute) and Delacruz Ripley (69th) to end the Devils’ hopes.
The Magpies will play the Townsville Blackhawks in next weekend’s grand final.
The Devils have much to cherish from their 2022 season which again underlined the potential of the club’s younger players.