Photo: Steve Bell - SMP Images
The Norths Devils have made it five wins from as many outings with a comfortable 30-10 victory over defending premiers the Mackay Cutters on a sodden track at Bishop Park today.
Entering the game averaging a meagre 13 points, the 12th ranked Mackay offense looked to start strongly against a Devils defence that held the Falcons to nil last week.
However, an early Mackay error put the visitors on the back foot, as the Devils surged to force three consecutive dropouts.
The home side looked the stronger team early, with a try to winger Kainga Turner disallowed after the video referee deemed a Mackay player had been illegally taken out of the play.
The resulting changeover saw the Cutters wrest back the momentum, pinning the Devils inside their own half before centre Josh Benjamin crossed the line to give the visitors first points with 11 minutes gone.
With the Cutters piling on the pressure, a Zac Santo kick in the 26th minute found Liam Taylor inside the try line on the right edge, seemingly bringing up Mackay’s second try of the match, before insufficient video footage saw the on-field call of no try stand after the video referee could not be certain Taylor had been onside prior to the kick.
Soon after the restart, a rare error by Santo gifted the Devils some much needed field position, where they capitalised from the scrum to send Turner over for a four pointer. Halfback Todd Murphy nailed the sideline conversion to give the home side an unlikely 6-4 lead heading into the break.
The second half told a completely different story, with Norths showing why they entered the match undefeated.
Early tries to Shaun Carney and eventual XXXX man of the match Murphy had the home side sitting comfortably at 18-4, before Devils captain Brendon Gibb delivered for his winger Rogan Dean to extend the lead once more after 55 minutes.
The Devils added more salt to the wound when Carney pounced on a fortuitous deflection to score under the posts for his second try of the match. The Cutters made the score line somewhat more respectable with a late consolation try to Doug Hewitt just before full time.
Murphy and Gibb were again solid for the Devils, who showed once more why they are real contenders for the title in 2014.
Santo was the standout for the Cutters, with Jason Schirnack and John Asiata also putting in solid performances.
Next week, the Devils travel to Innisfail on Saturday to take on the Northern Pride in a top of the table clash, while the Cutters host Tweed Heads in a must win game next Saturday.
NORTHS DEVILS 30 (Shaun Carney 2, Rogan Dean, Kainga Turner, Todd Murphy tries; Todd Murphy 5 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 10 (Josh Benjamin, Doug Hewitt tries; Liam Taylor goal) at Bishop Park.