Courtesy of The Cairns Post
THE Northern Pride took a giant step towards securing a top-two finish for the finals by beating closest ladder rivals Redcliffe 14-0 at Dolphin Oval yesterday.
The victory moved the defending premiers into outright second, two points clear of the Dolphins and Souths Logan, with four games left in the regular season.
A top-two finish would make it difficult for the Pride to be eliminated in the first week of finals, but coach David Maiden isn’t letting his mind stray towards September yet.
Yesterday’s clash between two of the Intrust Super Cup heavyweights delivered quality football in the first half, with both sides completing at 90 per cent.
Handling errors were more prevalent after the break, but the Pride never lost their nerve.
Skipper Ty Williams, playing his first game for 10 weeks after suffering a serious bicep injury, and Cowboys forward Ricky Thorby scored the only tries of each half, while the reliable boot of Chey Bird added three goals.
While the victory wasn’t pretty, Maiden said it was extremely satisfying.
"Our attack was stop-start all day and it’s something we’re going to have to keep working hard on," he said.
"But in defence we worked really hard. We were getting off the line and getting plenty of numbers in tackles.
"Mark Cantoni and Alex Starmer made a couple of try-saving tackles right on the line, which typified the effort." Dolphin Oval ranks as one of the toughest road trips in the competition, but Maiden praised his players’ poise in the hostile environment.
"It was pleasing to come down here and get the win," he said.
"There was a big crowd, it was a sunny day and just a great day for footy.
"But I was just really pleased with the patience we showed in attack in that first half."
Along with Williams, Pride centre Brett Anderson also made a successful comeback from injury.