NORTHERN Pride moved back to the top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder as the returning Hezron Murgha inspired a 26-10 win over Burleigh Bears in Cairns last night.
Murgha had not played since July 2013 following an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury suffered just weeks after signing for North Queensland Cowboys.
But in a memorable 80-minute return, the Yarrabah fullback thrilled the home crowd with a try in the last minute to complete Pride's fightback after the visitors had taken a 10-8 halftime lead.
In wet conditions at The Jungle, the Pride looked to be surging to a comfortable win when they led 8-0 after 19 minutes thanks to a Shaun Nona penalty goal and Blake Leary's converted try.
However, with both sides making handling errors, it was the Bears who soon struck back with a try from centre Brad Tighe in the left corner.
And on 35 minutes Burleigh, under returning head coach Jim Lenihan, took the lead, with winger Zac Mackay converting his own try to head into the sheds 10-8 ahead.
Pride came out with much more purpose in the second stanza, and the hosts were rewarded just after the hour mark as Javid Bowen finished off a fine Joel Riethmuller offload.
On 73 minutes, the Pride extended their lead to 20-10 when co-captain Jason Roos dummied from close range to dive over.
And it was Murgha who had the last word to cap a perfect injury comeback, touching down from an inch-perfect Nona grubber on the full-time siren.
Nona kicked all five attempts at goal (four conversions, one penalty goal), while Leary, Riethmuller and Ben Spina were outstanding for the Pride. .
NORTHERN PRIDE 26 (Hezron Murgha, Javid Bowen, Blake Leary, Jason Roos tries; Shaun Nona 5 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 10 (Brad Tighe, Zac Mackay tries; Zac Mackay goal) at Barlow Park
1. Hezron Murgha 22. Semi Tadulala 3. Javid Bowen 4. Brett Anderson (c) 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Shaun Nona 19. Ryan Ghietti 20. Ricky Thorby 9. Sam Obst 8. Ben Spina 11. Blake Leary 12. Tyrone McCarthy 13. Davin Crampton 14. Jason Roos (c) 15. Joel Riethmuller 17. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 21. Alex Starmer
1. Henare Wells 2. Brad Tighe 3. Steve Michaels 4. Corbin Kiernan 5. Zac Mackay 6. Matt Beddow 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Mark Ioane 9. Matt Keating 10. Matt Bell 11. James Dunley 12. Kyle McConnell 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Nafe Seluini 15. Siuatonga Likiliki 16. Chris Kitching 17. Nick Harrold 18. Jesse Malcolm
Photo: Gordon Greaves