The two Zaks gave Norths reason to smile after a last-minute 18-all draw to Souths Logan Magpies at Logan Metro Complex last night.
The Devils’ change room was deflated after their second draw of the season from a four-game stretch that featured bright moments in every match.
The Hostplus Cup premiers were last night on track to record their first win of the season with their most complete performance so far.
The Devils clawed back from a 10-0 deficit against a Magpies team featuring six fulltime Brisbane Broncos including Kobe Hetherington, who played for Wynnum Manly last week.
But the Magpies made the most of a 79th minute kick that was kicked a second time and then bounced and bobbled for a try converted seconds before the siren sounded.
Amid the Devils’ disappointment was the promise of Zak McGuire and Zach Brooks in their first grade debuts for Norths.
Both are products of the Devils’ junior representative system and both were excellent last night.
McGuire – the brother of former Devil and Kangaroos forward Josh – wore the No.9 jersey in the absence of Kierran Moseley and Liam Horne while last year’s Colts player of the year Brooks made an impact from the bench.
The Devils’ premiership seasons in 2021 and 2022 featured the development of key forwards during the season. Michael Molo, the 2021 grand final tryscorer, secured an NRL career with the Dragons.
Jayden Stephens and Viko Puliuvea emerged from Norths’ forward fringe to become key members of the pack that claimed last year’s title.
Before last night’s final try, the Devils had conceded only one try in more than two hours of football.
That came when Hetherington scored when he played the ball centimetres from the Devils’ line and then planted down a dummy-half kick from Blake Mozer.
Norths hit back four minutes later with a left-side move that included the Devils’ only two Broncos last night – Jock Madden and Brendan Piakura – before captain Jack Ahearn’s cut-out pass found busy winger Tony Tumusa for a good finish in the left corner.
Six minutes into the second half, five-eighth Bryce Donovan’s sharp cut-out pass found winger Jon Reuben for a try.
The Devils took the lead in the 63rd minute when Piakura sprinted 65 metres to chase a centimetre-perfect kick from Madden. While Tristan Sailor waited for the ball to roll over the dead-ball line, Piakura silently stepped around the Magpies fullback to score a try.
Reuben and Piakura have each scored a try in the Devils’ opening four matches.
Three penalty goals to Magpies half Jack Campagnolo enabled the home team to claim a draw despite scoring one try less than Norths.
“That was an improvement on our previous games but we know that we have to close out these games,” Norths coach Dave Elliott said.
“It was pleasing to see Zak McGuire and Zach Brooks play that way. They have come through the younger grades at the Devils and they showed they were up to this level.”
The Devils have a break on the Easter weekend before a Round 5 clash with the Capras at home on Saturday 15 April.
Photo by Alan Drinnen