Norths Devils revelled as much in a late defensive test as they did in the six tries that led to a 30-14 Hostplus Cup win over Souths Logan Magpies at Marsden State High School last night.
The Devils had surged to a 26-6 lead after 47 minutes but the Magpies, playing with more spirit than their last placing suggested, turned the heat back on the premiers.
They clawed the margin back to 10 points and had the Devils digging deep with only 12 men for the last seven minutes after a sin bin.
The Magpies had multiple sets on the Devils’ line but the visitors held firm and defused a last-minute bomb by sprinting to the other end of the field as Tony Tumusa, Matthew Milson and Jayden Corrigan combined for a try.
That capped a promising day for the Devils after the Hastings Deering Colts team scored nine tries in an impressive 52-10 win over the finals-bound Magpies.
After last night’s Hostplus Cup game, Norths co-coach Ben King praised the defensive sets that enabled the Devils to begin the sprint to the finals with confidence.
The congested points table – with two points separating teams placed third to eighth – will be sorted out during four weekends of football in August.
“We needed to find something late in the game to defend our line and we were able to do that against a team that was throwing a lot at us,” King said.
“We had started the game well but it was good to defend like that and then to finish with a try with 12 players.”
The match turned in the Devils’ favour when the Magpies’ Broncos hooker Cory Paix was sin-binned in the 26th minute for a professional foul as the visitors were about to score.
In the first play after Paix left the field, the Devils scored in the right corner when co-captain Jack Ahearn cut out two men to find Corrigan scorching down the sideline for the first of his two tries.
Five minutes later, Ahearn was again prominent as he held up a pass for his co-captain Michael Sio who burst on to the ball for an important try.
Ahearn was excellent last night, setting up Jacob Gagan’s try-scoring double in the opening 16 minutes with two breaks that split the Magpies’ line.
The Devils skipped to a winning margin in the 47th minute when Connor Broadhurst’s tip to Ben Te Kura helped the 18-year-old Broncos-contracted prop to his first Cup try.
The clash of the Broncos affiliate clubs included NRL-contracted Devils Xavier Willison and Brendan Piakura while the Magpies had Paix along with Jordan Pereira and Logan Bayliss.
The Devils welcomed back Kierran Moseley from an absence with his broken arm and the former NRL hooker played strong minutes while Viko Puliueva also returned from injury to feature off the bench in a forward pack that included Leivaha Pulu, Jayden Stephens, Sam Lavea and Liam Horne’s effective work.
The Devils are in sixth place with a clear path to the finals – they have to face second-placed Capras in Rockhampton next Sunday before closing out the season with home matches against Ipswich Jets and Townsville Blackhawks.
The table is so tight that the Blackhawks’ loss to the Pride yesterday dropped them to 10th place. A win would have left them seventh.
The Devils’ Colts are only one win outside the top eight after yesterday’s demolition of the Magpies which included nine individual tryscorers.
The Devils led 30-6 at halftime and kept the momentum at both ends of the field in the second half, pressing until the end to enable halfback Hayden Rowbotham to score in the final two minutes.
NORTHS DEVILS 30 (Jacob Gagan 2, Jayden Corrigan 2, Michael Sio, Ben Te Kura tries, Connor Broadhurst three goals) bt SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 16 (Jack Smith, Denzel Samoa, Rory Ferguson tries, Harradyn Wilson goal) at Marsden State High School.