Norths Devils are preparing for their first National State Championship showdown after celebrating yesterday’s stirring Hostplus Cup grand final win over the Dolphins at Redcliffe.
The Devils gathered with family, friends and fans in a packed leagues club last night to mark Norths’ first back-to-back premierships since 1963-64.
But the season isn’t over yet.
The Devils will meet the NSW Cup champions, to be decided this afternoon when Penrith and the Bulldogs meet in Sydney. The game will be a curtain-raiser on the NRL grand final program in Sydney next Sunday.
The Devils have had this match in the back of their minds for some time but they did not want to look beyond yesterday’s dramatic clash with the Dolphins. The win was sealed with Brayden McGrady’s stunning 79th minute try, pictured, from a Tyson Gamble kick.
The proud Norths history repeated when the back-to-back premiers revived memories of the last team to achieve that feat for the Devils.
Yesterday’s stunning 16-10 win – the same scoreline in last year’s grand final win over Wynnum Manly – marked the Devils’ first consecutive titles since Bob Bax and Jimmy Hannam’s team defended their title in 1964.
The similarities were everywhere.
This year’s Devils’ grand final squad included eight players who weren’t part of last year’s decider.
The Devils won their last seven matches of the season, knocking off the teams ranked first, second and third in their three finals matches.
And they sealed the title with some of the most determined defence in Devils history against a Redcliffe team that had scored a half-century against them a few months earlier.
It was shades of 1964 when the Devils brought a bunch of new players into a team established as the best in Brisbane.
But they were sentenced to sudden-death football when they finished third, toppling Redcliffe in the knockout semi-final before defeating minor premiers Valleys in the preliminary final.
And then the Devils then had to play a Brothers team that had scored 43 points against them – in the days of three-point tries – earlier in the season.
The Devils prevailed 13-4 in a grand final long remembered as the club’s last successful title defence until yesterday’s heroics.
And now the Devils will ready themselves for a trip to Sydney to end the season.
Photo by Alan Drinnen