ROBERT Lui produced an Intrust Super Cup master class to blow Easts off the park and reaffirm the Northern Pride’s title favouritism following their 44-20 win at Langlands Park yesterday.
The Langlands Park contest between the league’s two best defensive sides turned out to be nothing like the slug-fest many had expected with the Pride running rampant in the early stages.
The Pride looked primed from the get-go, as Lui – a late addition after asking Cowboys officials to let him play – made himself the star of the show.
“I wanted to get some minutes,” he told Channel 9 after the match. “I have been playing hooker (for North Queensland) and it was good to be back in the halves.
“I just wanted to bring some energy back.”
The Tigers however, were missing their Storm-aligned players, with the team coming up against an on-song Pride lineup boasting six Cowboys.
The hosts put their opening kick-off out on the full in a sign of the mayhem to follow.
Halfback Lui opened the scoring following a mazy 20m run, before Davin Crampton landed the first of his two tries just minutes later.
Hezron Murgha’s charge led to Blake Leary crashing over, with Jack Svendsen also getting in on the frenzy in a chilling first-half display.
Any hope the break might wake the Tigers from their hibernation was quickly lost, with No. 7 Grant Giess not returning following a shoulder injury.
Shortly after, Brett Anderson’s dodgy hamstring was given the most comfortable of tests, as the centre helped himself to a four-pointer after a clever Shaun Nona grubber.
Kyle Feldt showed impressive wheels to race 60m after a fortuitous intercept, before the Cowboys winger leapt highest to set up Crampton.
Leary’s second – his seventh of the season – then extended the scoreline to 44-0 with 20 minutes to play.
Easts finally showed some resolve to land the final four tries of the match, including a hat-trick to Jarrod McInally, but it was too little, too late.
“That was probably our best 60 minutes we had put together all season,” Pride coach Jason Demetriou said.
“Rob Lui’s attitude is always first class and Shaun Nona fed off that and was outstanding.”
“Everybody was on song and did their job.”
While delighted with the win, Demetriou admitted his side’s kick defence needed to be addressed after first two of McInally’s tries came directly from the boot.
“The boys came off the field like they had lost because of those last 20 minutes,” he said.
“But we need to understand that we’re building towards an 80-minute effort and we took a big step.”
Nona’s personal haul of 12 points saw the five-eighth become just the fifth Pride player to crack 100 points in an Intrust Super Cup campaign.
You can watch the highlights of the game here: Easts Tigers v Northern Pride
NORTHERN PRIDE 44 (Blake Leary 2, Davin Crampton 2, Kyle Feldt, Brett Anderson, Robert Lui, Jack Svendsen tries; Shaun Nona 6 goals) def EASTS TIGERS 20 (Jarrod McInally 3, Donald Malone tries; Donald Malone 2 goals) at Langlands Park.
1. Eddie Tautali 2. Dane Chang 3. Shane Neumann 4. Donald Malone 5. Jarrod McInally 6. Jacob Fauid 7. Grant Giess 8. Steven Thorpe (c) 9. Tom Butterfield 10. Matthew Zgrajewski 11. Dane Hogan 12. Troy Giess 13. Jacob Ling 14. Liam McDonald 15. Christian Welch 16. Foisa Peni 17. Liam Tyson
1. Hezron Murgha 22. Kyle Feldt 3. Brett Anderson 4. Javid Bowen 18. Robert Lui 6. Shaun Nona 7. Sam Obst 8. Ben Spina 9. Jason Roos 10. Alex Starmer 11. Blake Leary 12. Tyrone McCarthy 13. Davin Crampton 20. Ricky Thorby 15. Jack Svendsen 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 17. Joel Riethmuller