A team of pure Devils went within minutes of one of Norths’ best fightbacks before a late try pushed the Capras to a 36-25 Hostplus Cup win in Rockhampton tonight.
The Devils trailed 20-0 after 26 minutes against one of the competition frontrunners before the premiers found their feet.
A Bryce Donovan field goal with five minutes remaining gave Norths a 25-24 lead before a silenced Browne Park crowd.
But the Capras went to one of their four fulltime Dolphins NRL players to steal the lead back when centre Oliver Gildart scored with three minutes remaining.
An intercept pass in the final seconds as the Devils pushed to regain the lead ended with a final Capras try to provide a scoreline that didn’t resemble the closeness of the match.
The Devils were without any of their Broncos players tonight but they still sparked a fightback that should give the club a feeling of pride.
It began in the 33rd minute when NRL Indigenous All-Stars hooker Kierran Moseley jinked from dummy-half and floated a perfect pass for winger Jared Chambers to score.
The Devils were held up over the line minutes later before the halves combination of Donovan and Kyle Coghill pushed a pass to winger Jon Reuben for a try that made the halftime score 20-12 in favour of the Capras.
The Devils’ tries continued in the second half.
Reuben scored again in the 50th minute when the NRL winger propped and bumped off former State of Origin winger Edrick Lee and planted the ball with his other hand millimetres from the sideline.
A Moseley-Horne move in the 70th minute drew the Devils level with Donovan again perfect with all of his conversions today.
Norths tweaked its starting forward pack with Zach Brooks at lock while Jayden Stephens started in the front row with Justin Makirere. Viko Puliuvea and Sam Elliott were in the second row. Moses Noovao-McGreal returned to a bench that included Zac McMinn in his second match for Norths and Tauaalo Vaipulu.
The backline was again led by skipper Jack Ahearn while Connor Broadhurst, returning to Rockhampton, and Tony Tumusa were the centre pairing.
This Devils team has rued quiet patches which have made their season challenging.
The Capras blanked Norths 34-0 at Bishop Park last month and they unloaded another 20 points today before the premiers righted the ship.
Former Devil Nixon Putt opened the scoring before Gildart scored the first of his two tries in the 11th minute. Prop Bailey Butler (17th minute) and Lee (26th minute) completed the opening four tries for the Capras.
At Tweed early in the season, the Devils fell behind 32-0 before scoring 26 consecutive points.
“We made it tough for ourselves at the start and gave them a fair bit of footy which they capitalised on,” Devils coach Dave Elliott said.
“We regrouped after that start and clawed our way back. It was a spirited comeback.
“We’ve spoken about trying to execute those starts better. It’s tough to give a good team like the Capras that much footy.”
The Devils have their first bye of the season next week before hitting the road to meet Burleigh Bears.
Earlier in the day, the Devils scrambled to a 26-all draw with the Capras in their Hastings Deering Colts clash.
The Devils charged down two field goals in the final minutes after fullback Declan Haydon had just missed a long-range attempt.
Haydon’s solo try in the 75th minute drew the Devils even before a frantic finish to the match.
Earlier, right winger William Curran scored three tries for the Devils whose season record sits at two wins, one draw and three losses.
HOSTPLUS CUP: CQ CAPRAS 36 (Edrick Lee 2, Oliver Gildart 2, Nixon Putt, Bailey Butler, Brandon Roberts tries, Trey Browne 4 goals) bt NORTHS DEVILS 25 (Jon Reuben 2, Jared Chambers, Liam Horne tries, Bryce Donovan 4 goals, field goal) at Browne Park.
HASTINGS DEERING COLTS: NORTHS DEVILS 26 (William Curran 3, Reece Briers, Declan Haydon tries, Briers 3 goals) drew with CQ CAPRAS 26 (Jesuah Wini, Ryder Huth, Marcus Tanner, Carsen Huth, Jake Barham tries, Harry Barham 3 goals) at Browne Park.
Photo by Alan Drinnen