History repeated for Norths today when the Burleigh Bears blew away the premiers 54-18 in their Hostplus Cup clash at Pizzey Park.
Burleigh raced in eight tries in the first half while the Devils completed one of their six sets as they struggled to gain possession.
The Devils improved in the second half, taking that 18-12 despite playing for 10 minutes with 12 men.
It was a flashback to last year’s Round 6 clash when the Bears defeated the Devils 36-0 – the blip in a year during which Norths won 18 of 20 matches including a treasured grand final.
Devils co-coach Kevin Neighbour congratulated the Bears, who increased their lead atop the ladder with their seventh consecutive win.
Norths lost their first away game for the season and slipped to fifth place with a 7-4 win-loss record.
“We saw today just how well Burleigh plays as a team – they were very good and they executed very well,” Neighbour said.
“They’re a very well-coached team and they outplayed us and deserved that win.”
The game got away from the Devils early as mistakes opened the door for Burleigh to score twice in the first seven minutes. Tries followed in the 11th, 18th, 22nd, 27th, 35th and 39th minutes to build a 42-0 halftime lead.
The Devils finished strongly with tries to Brendan Piakura (68th minute), Rhys Kennedy (75th) and Brayden McGrady (79th), all converted by Connor Broadhurst.
McGrady’s try came from a kick from Toby Westcott, who became Devil No.1325 with his debut off the bench.
The Devils had eight players unavailable including Tyrone Roberts who watched from the sidelines after his appearance for the Broncos against the Melbourne Storm on Friday night.
Winger Rashaun Denny left the field in the 12th minute after a head knock and did not return. That enabled Westcott to play heavy minutes in his first match.
But the Devils have countered those absences this year with their “next man up” approach that has helped to overcome the loss of six players from last year’s grand final team to fulltime contracts in the NRL and the UK.
The Devils threatened the Bears line throughout the second half as possession moved towards the visitors. Piakura posted the first points when he sprinted more than 60 metres from an intercept.
Kennedy crashed over from close range before McGrady gathered a kick and pushed through the Bears’ defence.
The teams meet again in Roma in five weeks during Country Week.
Earlier today, the Devils Colts fought back to trail Burleigh 20-16 late in their clash at Pizzey Park.
But two late tries to the Bears helped them to a 30-16 win.
BURLEIGH BEARS 54 (Matiu Stone-Dunn 3, Hayden Schwass 2, Taine Tuaupiki, Alofiana Khan-Pereira, Kea Pere, Dylan Kelly, Herman Ese’ese tries. Josh Rogers 7 goals) bt NORTHS DEVILS 18 (Brendan Piakura, Rhys Kennedy, Brayden McGrady tries. Connor Broadhurst 3 goals) at Pizzey Park.