Norths surged into another Hostplus Cup preliminary final when the fast feet of Tony Tumusa delivered a famous finals win over minor premiers Burleigh Bears on the road today.
The Devils trailed 14-19 with two minutes remaining when Tumusa took the ball on the 30-metre line and stepped his way through the Bears defence, reaching out with defenders on him to plant the ball next to the posts.
Tyrone Roberts then calmy converted the try to put the Devils ahead 20-19 with one minute remaining.
The Bears regained the ball from the re-start but tryscorers Kierran Moseley and Leivaha Pulu charged down a final-second field goal attempt to seal the result.
The premier’s victory is underlined by a few comparisons.
This was a team of pure Devils – Roberts won a Broncos contract after signing with Norths earlier this season – while the Bears had four players contracted to the Gold Coast Titans.
Three months ago, the Bears demoralised the Devils at the same ground, unloading 42 points on the shell-shocked visitors by halftime.
Burleigh won again when the teams met in Roma during Country Week in July but the Devils haven’t lost since.
They have won five games in a row to take the best winning streak of the competition into a home preliminary final in two weeks against the winner of next weekend’s sudden-death clash between Sunshine Coast and Tweed Seagulls.
“We’ve still got work ahead of us,” Devils co-coach Ben King said.
“We knew that we were coming into this game in good shape but Burleigh are the deserved minor premiers so we knew this was going to be a fight.”
The Bears ran with the aid of a strong wind in the first half, posting two tries to five-eighth Josh Rogers to lead 12-0 before a last-minute field goal to Guy Hamilton left the home team ahead 13-6 at halftime.
The Devils never went away and edged back into the game when co-captain Jack Ahearn’s short pass found a charging Pulu for a try in the 33rd minute.
The premiers began the second half with the wind at their backs and made a steady fightback that hit speed in the 64th minute when Moseley took the ball from dummy-half, 35 metres out, threw a dummy and split the Bears defence.
Moseley kept running for the corner, scoring a try that Roberts converted to keep a perfect record despite the vocal urgings of a strong Burleigh crowd.
The Devils hit the front for the first time in the 70th minute when forward Lloyd Perrett drew a penalty in front that Roberts put over for a goal for a 14-13 margin.
But that lead lasted a minute – Burleigh regained the ball from the kick-off and captain Sami Sauiluma scored a converted try for the Bears to lead 19-14.
But this Devils team has made a habit in the last two years of playing every one of the 80 minutes.
They moved back down the field after a receiving a penalty in their half. Tumusa’s speed and step opened up a tiring Bears defence for a try that will be long remembered by Devils fans.
“It’s a long season and we have to be ready to play our best in September,” King said.
“But this is a tough competition. Every game is tough no matter if it’s final or not.”
Norths were again well served across the field with the pure Devils sharing the workload as they extended their finals winning streak to four matches following last year’s clean sweep through the post-season.
NORTHS DEVILS 20 (Leivaha Pulu, Kierran Moseley, Tony Tumusa tries, Tyrone Roberts 4 goals) bt BURLEIGH BEARS 19 (Josh Rogers 2, Sami Sauiluma tries, Rogers 3 goals, Guy Hamilton field goal) at Pizzey Park.
Photo: QRL Photos