Jon Reuben was back in a Devils jersey and back to his usual tricks as Norths completed a solid 32-18 win over Redcliffe in a Hostplus Cup trial match at Dolphin Oval today.
Reuben last played for the Devils on the same ground in October 2021 when he handled twice in the try that delivered a famous premiership to Bishop Park.
After making his NRL debut for the Dragons last year, Reuben returned to the Devils for this season and he took little time to find his mark in his first outing of the year.
In the 13th minute, Reuben sprinted 80m in a twisting run that had the Dolphins scrambling. He scored the Devils’ first try two minutes later off a Tony Tumusa pass and scored again after the halftime siren as the visitors edged to a 22-6 lead.
Redcliffe gave Reuben a look at the sideline in the second half and he took full advantage in another sprint that put the Devils on the front foot.
This was a pleasing result for Devils coach Dave Elliott, rolling out a bunch of his frontline Hostplus Cup players for the first time along with a mix of young Devils and new faces.
Bryce Donovan and Sam Elliott – who played against the Devils in last season’s grand final – made their first starts of the season along with 2021 premiership winner Bernard Gregorius who has returned to Norths.
The likes of 2022 premiership squad members Tumusa, Connor Broadhurst, Liam Horne, Jayden Stephens, Viko Puliuvea, Sam Lavea and Moses Noovao-McGreal played their first matches for the season.
Jack Ahearn, NRL Indigenous All-Stars hooker Kierran Moseley and new signing James Johnson will be among players to return for next Saturday night’s final trial match against the Falcons on the Sunshine Coast.
Redcliffe also fielded some of their frontline players, including Devils 2022 premiership tryscorer Brayden McGrady.
Elliott said the Devils kept turning up in defence, holding the Dolphins scoreless for almost one hour after the home team crossed in the opening minutes for a 6-0 lead.
“We had some of our experienced Cup players back today but we also had some younger guys who have come through the Devils system and others who have trained hard across the summer and deserved a chance,” Elliott said.
“They kept turning up for each other in defence today and that was pleasing to see.
“It’s only February and we’ve got a long way to go but there were some positives to take out of today and some things we know we can improve on.”
Devils 2021 Colts player Zac Brooks was among those players to impress today in a group of players making the most of their opportunity including Zak McGuire, Kye Jenkins, Blayden Dodd, Will Toloi, Toby Westcott, Alo Vaipulu, James Antonio and James Flack.
Devils Colts player Declan Haydon crossed in the 32nd minute for a try that speared the Devils to a 16-6 lead.
The game had been close early but the Devils were never headed after Donovan split his old team on a 25-metre run that ended with Jayden Stephens scoring next to the post.
Donovan set up another try six minutes later with a slick cutout pass to Jared Chambers, whose sharp hands placed the ball for a try only for the referee to rule a forward pass.
The Devils took two minutes to score in the second half when Westcott’s kick for the corner was batted back by Reuben for Coghill to score.
Elliott scored his first try for the Devils in the 50th minute when he collected a pass from McGuire.
NORTHS DEVILS 32 (Jon Reuben 2, Jayden Stephens, Declan Haydon, Kyle Coghill, Sam Elliott tries, Connor Broadhurst 3 goals, Bryce Donovan goal) bt REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 18 at Dolphin Oval.