Ryan James raised his hand for inclusion back into the Gold Coast Titans side after an impressive outing for feeder club Tweed Heads despite the Seagulls falling 24-12 to Norths Devils in Round 3 action of the Intrust Super Cup.
James produced an unfaltering performance throughout the match, including some inspiring defensive work which is sure to raise the eyebrows of Titans’ coach John Cartwright, whose side was given a 42-12 thrashing by the West Tigers on the same afternoon.
Four teams remain undefeated after three rounds with Norths joined by the PNG Hunters, Northern Pride and Souths Logan with perfect records. The Hunters defeated Central Queensland 46-14 in Kokopo, the Pride won a hard-fought encounter with Redcliffe 20-12 and despite scoring six tries to four, Souths Logan just scraped home against Burleigh 28-26.
Easts Tigers bounced back from last week's defeat with a 50-6 thumping of Sunshine Coast and Ipswich continued their bright start to the season with a 32-22 defeat of Wynnum Manly.
At the Piggabeen Sports Complex and amid a scrappy affair dominated by a plethora of handling errors, it was the Devils who made the most of their chances despite spilling the Steeden on almost twice as many occasions as the Seagulls.
Both sides were boosted by the inclusions of NRL stars, with James joined by Kalifa Faifai Loa for Tweed Heads, while Broncos’ interchange forward Jarrod Wallace – who has watched 160 minutes of NRL action from the bench this season – started for the Devils.
The Seagulls had first use of a strong northerly and took full advantage when Damian Sironen, nephew of former Balmain Tigers great Paul Sironen, crashed over from close range off the back of a penalty, handing the home side an early 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
The visitors struck back in the 18th minute after a blindside raid from inside the 10 enabled their skipper Brendon Gibb to dish an offload out to an unmarked Tristan Lumley to score, however the conversion was shanked by five-eighth Todd Murphy leaving the score at 6-4.
The Devils squared the ledger in the 30th minute after a play-the-ball infringement gifted the visitors an easy two points from right in front.
Just as the scoreboard looked like remaining untouched heading into the break, the Devils crossed right on the stroke of half-time.
An opportunistic grubber kick behind Tweed’s line by second-rower Chris Faust wasn’t properly dealt with by Faifai Loa, allowing Devils winger Kainga Turner to gratefully plant the ball down for a try, giving Norths a 10-6 lead heading into the sheds.
It only took Norths three minutes to extended their half-time lead when winger Rogan Dean dashed unmarked down the sideline after receiving a lovely long cut-out pass by fullback Zach Koitka.
Murphy utilised the strong breeze to perfection as he guided his conversion inside the right upright, allowing the visitors some breathing space on the scoreboard at 16-6.
Both sides failed to ask many questions of the opposing defence, mainly due to poor ball control despite conditions being perfect for throwing the footy around.
Multiple attacking raids on Norths’ line allowed the Seagulls to eventually post their second try when Pele Peletelese crossed, narrowing the deficit to four points at 16-12 with 15 minutes to go.
The Seagulls had plenty of opportunities to level the score inside the last 10 minutes but couldn’t capitalise and the Devils made them pay dearly with Lumley scoring his second try with three minutes left on the clock.
A late penalty goal after the siren stretched the score out to 24-12 in favour of Norths, who maintain their undefeated start to the season.
NORTHS DEVILS 24 (Tristan Lumley 2, Rogan Dean, Kainga Turner tries; Todd Murphy 4 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 12 (Damian Sironen, Pele Peletelese tries; Blake Anderson 2 goals) at Piggabeen Sports.