Northern Pride overcame key injuries and a stubborn Redcliffe yesterday to crush any doubts about their ability on the road.
Following some inconsistent results away from their Barlow Park fortress, the Pride produced a gritty 24-22 win at Dolphin Oval to outline their Intrust Super Cup title credentials.
Davin Crampton continued his prolific tryscoring run since returning to the backrow, bagging a double in another lively performance from the 25-year-old.
Joel Riethmuller also scored as the visitors soared to an 18-6 half-time break, but the Dolphins proved why they have been one of the league’s most dominant teams over the past decade.
Tries to wingers Oliver Regan and Liam Georgetown set up a grandstand finish, before Jason Roos set up Ben Spina for what looked to be a match-sealer.
However, there was another twist as Jon Green barged over, leaving some lastgasp Pride defence to hang on.
The victory was extra pleasing for coach Jason Demetriou after he lost co-captain Brett Anderson (hamstring) at the break, prompting Crampton to shuffle back into the centres.
Playmaker Shaun Nona (ankle) and Tyrone McCarthy (knee) also played through the pain in a victory that hoisted the northern giants two points clear of Ipswich.
“We have been a bit ordinary on our travels so it was pleasing to get the win,” Demetriou said.
“Away from home the last couple of times the boys dropped their heads a little bit.
“But this time the boys showed what it means to them to try and win this competition.
“Even in the second half when everything seemed to be going their way they kept showing up for one another.”
Fullback Hezron Murgha, three games back from a knee reconstruction, made further positive steps towards full fitness, combining good positioning with deft touches in a gentle reminder to the Cowboys of his star qualities.
Murgha’s afternoon would have been a whole lot sweeter if referees had not denied him what looked to be a fair try, ruling a double movement in scenes reminiscent of Jarryd Hayne’s Origin try.
“It was good to see him open up with his running,” Demetriou said of his No. 1.
“I thought in the second half he picked up it.
“We said at half-time the best way for him to regain confidence is to rip in and back himself, and he started to do that.”
Remarkably, all four Pride tries were to forwards, who have crossed more times this season than the backline.
NORTHERN PRIDE 24 (Davin Crampton 2, Ben Spina, Joel Riethmuller tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 22 (Oliver Regan 2, Liam Georgetown, Jon Green tries; Adrian Davis 3 goals) at Dolphin Oval.
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Paul Byrnes 2. Oliver Regan 3. Aaron Whitchurch 4. Nick Ritter 5. Liam Georgetown 6. Zach Strasser 7. Adrian Davis 8. Martin Cordwell 9. Cameron Cullen 10. Jon Green (c) 11. Sarafu Fatiaki 12. Joe Bradley 13. James Ackerman 14. Tui Samoa 18. David Hala 16. Tom Geraghty 17. Caleb Hoffman
Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Justin Castellaro 3. Brett Anderson (c) 4. Javid Bowen 20. Semi Tadulala 6. Shaun Nona 7. Sam Obst 8. Ben Spina 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Alex Starmer 11. Blake Leary 12. Tyrone McCarthy 13. Davin Crampton 14. Ryan Ghietti 21. Ricky Thorby 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 18. Tom Hancock 17. Joel Riethmuller