THEY were made to endure a tense final few minutes, but the Townsville Stingers held on to claim a 22-18 win over the Norths Devils to claim this year’s Mal Meninga Cup title.

Played in warm conditions at Barlow Park, the northerners were fan favourites with the crowd and got off to a good start with halfback Cooper Bambling opening the scoring early in the piece.

After some end-to-end play mixed with errors from both sides; Norths were able to hit back when centre Keenan Yorston added to his season tally of tries. The try was converted by skipper Adrian Henley to draw scores level at 6-6 with just under 20 minutes left in the half.

Some hard running from the Townsville side was then rewarded with a try to Rhein Frank; before they were in again thanks to a stepping run from Regan Grieve with halftime approaching.

Trailing 16-6 at the break; the Devils applied the pressure to the Stingers – but some great goal line defence held them out – with this passage going on to decide the winner on the day.

Norths were able to get up to their attacking line fairly easily, but were simply unable to break through, and when they did thanks to forward Michael Molo, he lost the ball over the line.

They were finally able to show something for the efforts soon after however, with Denzell Heketoa adding to their score – but their momentum was short-lived.

Stingers winger Richie Munchow was able to extend the Stingers lead with 14 minutes to go in the match, with the conversion to Bambling seeing them out to a 22-12 lead.

After points were hard to come by early in the half – the points flowed more freely as the minutes ticked down with a dummy half dash from Kalolo Saitaua was rewarded with a four-pointer next to the posts. Again converted by Henley scores were 22-18 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

It set up an exciting finish with both sides throwing everything that had at each other – with both having chances to close it out.

In the end however, the Stingers were able to hold on to snare the title.

MAL MENINGA CUP

State Final

Saturday 3 May

TOWNSVILLE STINGERS 22 (Rhein Frank, Richie Munchow, Cooper Bambling, Regan Grieve tries; Cooper Bambling 3 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 18 (Keenan Yorston, Kalolo Saitaua, Denzell Heketoa tries; Adrian Henley 2, Jack Miers goals) at Barlow Park.

Man of the Match: Nick Brown (Townsville Stingers).

NEXT GAMES – Interstate Final

Photo: Maria Girgenti Madcap Photography