THEY stood as one, side by side with excited children from some of the most remote communities in the country.
The final scenes from Bamaga’s Yusia Ginau Oval yesterday capped off a memorable week for the local people who witnessed the historic Intrust Super Cup clash between the Northern Pride and Souths Logan.
After finishing with a flurry of points to over-run the Pride 40-22, the jubilant Souths Logan players accepted the Tropical North Queensland TAFE Shield and happily mixed with the Pride players and hundreds of children at the post-match ceremony.
Souths Logan skipper Phil Dennis loved every minute of his team’s experience at Bamaga.
He took most satisfaction from the final 15 minutes of the game.
This was the period when the Magpies rolled through the Pride and stamped themselves as a genuine contender for the 2011 premiership.
“The boys toughed it out,” Dennis said.
“It was pretty tight for a while but then we finished strongly which was pleasing.”
The Magpies have now closed to within one competition point of the second-placed Pride.
But Dennis, a member of the Magpies’ 2008 premiership-winning team, is urging his team-mates not to look too far ahead.
“We’re just trying to keep our defence up and play off the back of that,” Dennis said.
In a stunning performance, the Magpies scored seven tries to four after the teams went to half-time at 12-12.
Centre Drury Low and in-form utility Andrew Edwards notched doubles for Souths Logan.
Pride coach David Maiden was at a loss to explain his team’s performance.
“(It came) out of the blue, we were real lethargic and we paid the price,” he said.
“But full credit to Souths, they took the opportunities when they had them.”
Although clearly disappointed with his side’s performance, Maiden hadn’t lost sight of the bigger picture.
“We’d love to play here again,” he said.
“It’s a good exercise promoting our game. When you see people driving six or seven hours to watch a game, it shows how much rugby league means to them.”
The Pride made three late changes before kick-off, with NRL stars Scott Bolton and Cory Paterson coming into the 17.
Davin Crampton replaced skipper Ty Williams, who pulled up sore after the Pride’s final training run.
Crampton’s call up was a great reward after the Normanton junior spent many hours working with members of the local community in the lead up to the game.