Category: ISC

Devils end season with finals loss

The Norths Devils’ 87th season of senior football ended in a way that the superstitious would have feared – an elimination final loss to the Easts Tigers that hinged on two bouncing kicks.

The first kick sat up and ended in the hands of Marion Seve, who dashed 50m to drive Easts back to level scores in the 56th minute.

And the next was a dagger for the Devils – a fifth-tackle kick that the Tigers took in their own half and passed for a superb 70th minute try to Sam Lavea that would seal a 24-20 Intrust Super Cup win.

The Devils had two chances to respond but their season ended in the way that No.87 has been such an unlucky number for Australia’s cricketers.

With attacking options in centrefield and two minutes remaining, Devils half Sean O’Sullivan was wrongfooted and hurt his knee. He was carried off the field in the final and the Devils, without any replacements left, had to make their miracle plays with only 12 men.

The final efforts typified their improved 2019 season that featured the Devils’ first finals berth since 2012 – they continued to charge at the Tigers’ defence only to have a final-tackle option end over the sideline with seconds remaining.

The match had started well for the Devils with a 6th minute try to Nixon Putt and a 13th minute try to winger Herbie Farnworth pushing Norths to a 10-0 lead. Farnworth collected his 200th point for the season as Norths wen to halftime leading 18-12.

The Devils’ silent dressing room was broken after the match with coach Rohan Smith’s thanks to the players who pushed Norths through their best season in seven years but with the realisation that more is to come in 2020.

Most of the Devils will return but Smith paid tribute to Troy Dargan, who played his 41st and final match in a Norths jersey today before he takes up a two-year NRL contract with South Sydney.

The Devils had joy earlier in the day when the Hastings Deering Colts elimination final went to the home team 40-20 over Easts.

Norths will move into the second week of the finals with hope of defending the cherished Colts premiership from last season.

Norths Devils Top 5 Knock-Out Finals Wins

Number 5

The Devils had won five straight premierships and the rest of the competition was chasing us hard. In 1964, we finished third on the ladder and many judges thought our golden run was over. Redcliffe claimed fourth spot and were tipped to end our record run of premierships in the knockout match at Lang Park.. But one of our great players, centre Henry Hegarty, starred as we overcame Redcliffe 17-12. Hegarty had been battling injury but he was explosive with a try while also setting up a try for our great winger Fonda Metassa.

We were also well served by captain Jimmy Hannam, Les Geeves, Dinger Bell and our lock Elwyn Walters. We signed Elwyn from Tweed Heads and he would go on to play 12 Tests and win five Sydney premierships. Two weeks later, we won our sixth consecutive premiership. #UpTheDevils

Number 4

In 2012, the Devils reached the finals on points differential only, finishing in fifth place and only 19 points ahead of the Tigers on for-and-against. That left the Devils to travel to Ipswich to take on the fourth-placed Jets in front of a parochial home crowd.

The underdog Devils struck early as Jay Aston crossed for a try in the opening minutes. Another two tries pushed us ahead 16-0 after 24 minutes.
The Devils knew the Jets would fight back and they began to find their way and trailed by only two points with minutes remaining but the Devils dug deep as hooker Kurt Baptiste scored the try that broke Ipswich hearts as the Devils won 26-20.

Number 3

We go back to 2002 – It’s hard to believe that a Devils team that included Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater were outsiders for a knockout semi but we weren’t given much hope of beating the Bears at Burleigh.

Seven of our 17 players were eligible for the Colts competition. The Devils had only secured a finals place with a win in the last round of the season to get our win-loss record to 14-8. We jumped out to a handy 22-8 halftime lead at Burleigh as Smith, halfback Marc Brentnall and our captain Wade Fenton were among our best. And we continued to surge away in the second half with a win that put the competition on notice.

We came out the next week to eliminate the Tigers 18-16 at Langlands Park as Cronk was superb in a new role of fullback.

Number 2

In 1980 the Devils finished fourth after the regular-season, pitting them against Wayne Bennett’s Brothers team in a do-or-die clash at Lang Park. Devils coach Graham Lowe attracted attention when he promised before the game that the winner of the knockout semi would win the premiership, claiming that frontrunners Souths and Valleys didn’t “have the same razzle-dazzle” as the Devils.

Kiwi backrower Mark Graham was among the stars for the Devils as they scored six tries to defeat Brothers, beginning one of the most unlikely premiership runs in Brisbane’s rugby league history. Graham, Mark Murray, Ross Henrick, Neville Draper and electric fullback Joe Kilroy played well for the Devils in the win over Brothers.

Number 1

We go back to 1990 for a classic showdown between Norths and Easts at Lang Park.

The Devils reached the finals in fourth place, three points clear of fifth and rated the outsider of the finals series. But coach Tommy Raudonikis had his players primed for the finals series. First stop was the John Lang-coached Tigers, which had been unbeaten against the Devils in the regular season. This match was always tight. The Devils scored tries through fullback Pat Cleary and winger Brad Foster while goalkicking ace Guy Harvey added the extras to have the scores level at 14 with 30 minutes to go.

The Tigers hit the front with a field goal to Ken Jackson with 23 minutes remaining. But Raudonikis’ team was full of character and an attacking kick from Cleary bounced for the Devils in the in-goal area, leading to a try by Troy Evans – the father of Daly Cherry-Evans – in the 65th minute. Harvey, of course, converted the try. Easts took a penalty goal to close within 20-17 with 10 minutes remaining and both teams then battled out a stirring finish to the match.

The Devils emerged from that win to defeat Redcliffe in extra time in the preliminary final.

Dargan ready for finals return

Troy Dargan says it’s been an “honour” to wear the Norths jersey for two years as he prepares for his most important match with the Devils when the Intrust Super Cup finals begin tomorrow.

The Devils will host Easts Tigers in an elimination final at Bishop Park, where Dargan and his teammates enjoyed a special moment last month.

After the Devils’ toppled the Central Queensland Capras in their final home match of the regular season, they walked on to the hill to sing the team song with hundreds of former Norths players gathered for the annual Old Boys’ Day.

That moment reinforced to Dargan the pride in a Devils jersey that he will hand over at the end of the season after signing a two-year deal to join South Sydney’s NRL squad.

“I came to Brisbane from New South Wales so I didn’t have too much knowledge of the Norths Devils or the Queensland Cup but (coach Rohan Smith) and the coaching staff have driven a lot of the culture in the club,” Dargan said.

“It was awesome after that Capras game to mix and mingle with the Old Boys because you can tell what this club means to them. It’s been an honour to put on the Norths jersey.”
Dargan will play his 41st match for Norths tomorrow, fewer than Cooper Cronk when he was learning his trade at Bishop Park in the early 2000s.

Dargan has been in strong form and will tomorrow reunite in the halves with his Broncos colleague Sean O’Sullivan, who has featured in the last two NRL rounds.

Dargan and O’Sullivan have been part of the Devils’ 15-8 win-loss record in the regular season, cementing fifth place and leaving them in line to host the eighth-placed Tigers.

The Devils’ four-game winning streak through August was broken by a loss to Wynnum Manly at Kougari Oval last Sunday.

“We were disappointed with last weekend but sometimes losses can teach you a lot,” Dargan said.

“We had set ourselves up well for the finals with those four wins but this game against Easts is going to be very tough. Just look at their squad – there are some quality players there and we know that they are always difficult.”

Tomorrow marks Dargan’s return to finals football for the first time since he featured for Parramatta in the NRL’s former Under 20 competition.

The Eels qualified for the grand final in Dargan’s year although a broken arm in the finals series prevented him from playing in the decider.

“You play footy so that you can play in the finals and I have a lot of good memories from that time with Parramatta,” Dargan said.

“At Norths, a lot of new players came together last year and we’ve made it through to finals now in the second year and we can’t wait for it.

“We play so that we can play in finals so we’ll be giving it everything we have.”

Devils ready for finals charge

Norths coach Rohan Smith says the Devils are looking forward to playing a team above it on the ladder when their Intrust Super Cup regular season ends against Wynnum Manly at Kougari Oval this afternoon.

The Devils can’t change their position on the ladder today – they will finish fifth regardless of the outcome of the round 23 clash.

But the Seagulls need to win to finish second and secure a semi-final next weekend otherwise they will head to Burleigh to take on the Bears.

The Devils will go into the match on a four-game winning streak against Ipswich, Northern Pride, Mackay and Central Queensland Capras.

“There are no easy wins in this competition but we haven’t played a team above us on the ladder since Round 18 (six weeks ago),” Smith said.

“So this is a very good opportunity for us to prepare for the finals. Wynnum are always a difficult team to beat and their crowd is passionate and wants their team to win. It’s a very good chance for us.”

The Devils have a 15-7 win-loss record this season including victories over top-four teams Burleigh and Townsville. Wynnum Manly outlasted the Devils in a spirited Round 11 clash at Bishop Park when the Seagulls featured South Sydney centre James Roberts.

The Devils will go into the match without backrower Brendan Frei who hopes to recover from a hamstring strain in time for next weekend’s knockout final against Easts.

The Bishop Park match will mark the Devils’ first finals match since 2012.

The Devils’ Hastings Deering Colts team faces a similar opportunity today when they take on Wynnum Manly.

The Devils are locked into sixth place today regardless of the outcome of the clash with third-placed Wynnum Manly.

The Devils will look to build combinations as they head into their knockout final with Easts at Bishop Park next Sunday.

Devils beat Capras on Old Boys’ Day

Paul Ulberg has made more than 300 runs for Norths this year but none more important than the 56th minute burst tonight that propelled the Devils to a tight 26-20 Intrust Super Cup win over the Central Queensland Capras tonight.

Ulberg sliced through when the Devils needed it most after the Capras stunned them with a 16-14 lead late on Old Boys’ Day at Bishop Park.

Ulberg has the second-most runs in the competition this year and his midfield charge led to a try by Michael Sio that pushed the Devils to a winning lead, ensuring they would at least host a home final in two weeks.

The Devils now have a 15-7 win-loss record and have sealed fifth place, with fading hopes of gaining a top-four spot.

Earlier, the Devils sealed a finals spot in the Hastings Deering Colts with a 44-14 win over the Capras before a boisterous crowd.

The Old Boys’ Day celebrated the 1959 and 1969 premiership wins that bookended the most dominant era in Brisbane’s rugby league history. The Devils won eight of the 11 premierships, starting with the team that Clive Churchill led as captain-coach.

It’s been seven years since the Devils have been to the finals but they have surged back into the post-season with comprehensive away wins over the Northern Pride and Mackay Cutters in the last two weeks.

They were at shorts odds to topple the Capras – the Devils had won the last 14 matches between the teams – but sport doesn’t work out as planned.

The Devils made too many mistakes in the first half against a resilient Capras team but still led 14-6 at halftime.

The Capras ambushed them in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring two tries including an excellent 70-metre effort by Gabe Hamson that stunned the crowd and left the visitors ahead 16-14.

But Ulberg’s burst provided the catalyst for the Devils to reclaim the lead with Sio’s try followed by an excellent right-side move from halfback Troy Dargan to Riley Leota and a charging Jordan Riki who crashed over for the winning try.

The Devils finished the night on the hill with the Old Boys, joining them in the club song.

The celebration was welcomed by some of the oldest Devils as much as the close result will help to focus the current team for the next games.

The Devils head to Kougari Oval next Sunday to close the regular season before their first taste of finals since 2012.
Five-eighth Kobe Hetherington was solid in his Intrust Super Cup debut, replacing Sean O’Sullivan who featured for the Broncos in their clash with South Sydney last night.

NORTHS DEVILS 26 (Calum Gahan, Ethan Bullemor, Michael Sio, Jordan Riki tries, Connor Broadhurst five goals) d CQ CAPRAS 20 (Nathan Bassani, Jack Madden, Gabe Hamson, BJ Aufaga-Toomaga tries, Aufaga-Toomaga 2 goals) at Bishop Park.



Son of a gun ready for Devils debut

Kobe Hetherington’s rugby league journey reaches a milestone tomorrow night, following in the footsteps of a father who was “as tough as a two-dollar steak”.

Jason Hetherington started his career in the halves before going on to play hooker in an NRL grand final win and later for Queensland and Australia.

Kobe was too young to remember much of his father’s career but he’s seen enough video footage of the hard nut from the Banana shire who became a league topliner.

“I don’t remember much about him playing but I’ve seen him play. He was tough. As tough as a two-dollar steak,” Kobe said with a wit almost as dry as his father’s renowned sense of humour.

Kobe makes his Intrust Super Cup debut for Norths Devils tomorrow night when they host the Central Queensland Capras at Bishop Park.

He’ll start in the halves and he’ll run out with centre Connor Broadhurst – another player from Baralaba.

Hetherington played his first game for the Baralaba Panthers before he and twin brother Zac began their paths to senior football, earning recognition as part of The Cathedral College’s Confraternity Carnival team.

Zac made his NSW Cup debut this year for the Canterbury Bulldogs – father Jason’s premiership club.

Kobe has made his path to senior footy through the Devils’ Under 20 system, leading the club to a memorable premiership win last September as starting hooker.

He opened this year in Colts and played for the Queensland Under 20s before being moved into the senior ranks with Valleys in the Brisbane Rugby League competition ahead of tomorrow’s Cup debut.

Norths coach Rohan Smith said Hetherington’s form and persistence had secured his place as Devil No.1290 in front of a crowd that will be stacked with former Devils on the club’s Old Boys Day.

Hetherington was told of his selection at training on Monday night, a few hours after he knocked off another shift as a third-year carpentry apprentice.

“I’ve really enjoyed being at Norths – the Colts premiership last year is a really good memory,” Hetherington said.

“I started the year in Colts but moved into the BRL which has been a great experience and has got me well prepared to play Cup.

“Making the Cup team has been one of my goals since the start of the year so I’m looking forward to it.”

Jason and his wife Kym will be in Brisbane this weekend but only one of them will be at Bishop Park.

Kym which watch Kobe play while Jason sneaks across to Ipswich to join in the Jets’ Old Boys Day.

“Dad has some great footy memories so he’ll be out at the Jets but I know he’ll be keen to hear how things go for Norths. I gave him a call on Monday night (after learning of his Cup selection).”