Norths Devils have surged to their fourth Hostplus Cup win in five games but only after fending off a valiant Jets in Ipswich.
The 41-34 win yesterday was eventful – the Devils led 29-6 in the shadows of halftime before a Jets’ comeback after a long injury delay.
Jets prop Gordon Whippy was taken from the field in an ambulance after a head clash, and the Devils were flat-footed after play resumed.
The enterprising Jets scored three tries in 11 minutes to trail 29-28 – only behind by the one-point field goal that Bryce Donovan slotted before halftime.
Eventually the premiers regained momentum with five-eighth Kyle Coghill and winger Tony Tumusa crossing for important tries.
The Devils remain in the hunt for the finals with three matches remaining including next Saturday’s visit to Toowoomba before closing the regular season with home matches against Sunshine Coast Falcons and PNG Hunters.
“The win is important for us but the Jets really made us work hard today,” Devils coach Dave Elliott said.
“They got momentum after the delay and it was a challenge for us to regain that. Once we did, we were able to close out the game but we know we can improve.”
For all of Norths’ premiership joy in recent years, the Devils have never found life easy at Ipswich.
In 2021, the Devils lost only one away match for the season – a winter’s night upset at Ipswich.
Last year, the Devils scored with 90 seconds remaining to avoid perhaps the upset of the season.
Yesterday’s game started on a bright note when tireless forward Sam Elliott was rewarded for his 50th game with a try in the fifth minute.
The Devils looked slick when hooker Kierran Moseley turned the ball to prop Jayden Stephens found skipper Jack Ahearn and then Elliott for a 15-metre sprint to the line.
Four minutes later, the Devils crossed again when halfback Bryce Donovan’s cutout pass found centre Connor Broadhurst who beat a defender and offloaded in a tackle for Tumusa to score the first of his two tries.
The attack was among some bright moments for Norths including James Flack’s appearance as Devil No. 1342 and Bernard Gregorius’ return from injury.
Flack recovered from a torn pectoral muscle in the pre-season to earn his Devils debut off the bench.
Will Toloi crossed for his first try as a Devil in the 21st minute of the game when he took a pass from Ahearn to crash over in the tackle of former Norths junior Gerome Burns.
The Devils were cruising when flying winger Manase Kaho scored twice in four minutes.
The first try came from a scorching chase of Coghill’s pinpoint 30-metre attacking kick
The second was the finishing touch from a play involving seven Devils including Gregorius offloading in a tackle for his right winger.
That gave the Devils enough credit to stay ahead despite Jets’ tries in the 49th, 54th and 58th minutes sparked by former Norths back Jayden Corrigan.
The premiers found space through their forwards in key moments of the match and launched strong hits through the likes of George Fai, Viko Puliuvea, Moses Noovao-McGreal, Zac McMinn and Kahli Junior Kali.
Earlier yesterday, the Devils celebrated a 66–4 win over the Jets in their Hastings Deering Colts match.
The Devils unloaded 12 tries including captain Harry Walter scoring the first try and the penultimate try of the Colts’ most dominant performance of the season.
The win moved the Devils within one win of ninth place ahead of next Saturday’s clash with the Clydesdales in Toowoomba.
Photo by Alan Drinnen
HOSTPLUS CUP: NORTHS DEVILS 41 (Manase Kaho 2, Tony Tumusa 2, Sam Elliott, Will Toloi, Kyle Coghill tries, Bryce Donovan 6 goals, field goal) bt IPSWICH JETS 34 (Denzel Burns, Mosese Qionimacawa, Jayden Corrigan, Manaia Cherrington, Dray Ngatuere-Wroe, Ricco Falaniko tries, Ngatuere-Wroe 5 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.
HASTINGS DEERING COLTS: NORTHS DEVILS 66 (Harry Walters 2, Kallum Weatherall-Stacey 2, Dylan Gibb 2, Damascus Neemia, Brandon Norris, William Curran, Harry Spragg, Blayden Dodd, Declan Haydon tries, Weatherall-Stacey 5 goals, Dodd 4 goals) bt IPSWICH JETS 4 (George Teo try) at North Ipswich Reserve.