THE Northern Pride have claimed their second Intrust Super Cup premiership in five years with a record 36-4 victory over the Easts Tigers in front of 7135 fans at Suncorp Stadium this afternoon.
The 32-point margin is the highest ever in a Queensland / Intrust Super Cup grand final, and caps off an outstanding year for the North Queensland side.
After falling short in last year’s decider – and buoyed by their strong showing in their narrow 8-7 loss to the Pride only two weeks ago – many expected the Tigers to take it up to the minor premiers in attack. It was not to be however, with the Pride - who last won the premiership in 2010 - dominating across the park.
The minor premiers had more intensity from the kick-off, and it showed early in attack. Late-inclusion Kyle Feldt opened the scoring for the northerners after 16 minutes. After moving the ball to the left, Jason Roos changed direction to catch the Tigers defence napping, and after two quick passes Feldt only had to step inside a defender to put first points on the board.
With Easts unable to complete their sets, the Pride took full advantage. Given their strike power, they don’t often need many chances to score, and when a forced dropout gave the Cairns outfit a second shot at the Tigers goal line, it was Javid Bowen who took advantage, receiving from fullback Hezron Murgha to go over in the left corner.
Easts’ only real opportunity of the first half came through a Cody Walker kick, but winger Jarrod McInally was denied his claim on the ball.
While the Tigers rued what could have been, the Pride continued to work their way into attack. Ryan Ghietti almost did it all himself when a grubber through the line was killed by Cameron Munster, forcing the Pride’s third dropout of the half.
The continuing pressure eventually took its toll. Moving the ball from left to right, Feldt took possession on the wing before cutting back inside and putting Davin Crampton – who started on the bench to make way for Feldt’s inclusion – into a hole to score beside the uprights. Shaun Nona added the extras to send the Pride into the break ahead 18-0.
It was important for Easts to come out strongly after halftime if they were to prevent the score-line and the match getting further away from them. Instead it was Pride co-captain Brett Anderson who opened the second half scoring, with Nona pouncing on a deflection to cut through the line and find his skipper on the left.
If the match wasn’t all over after Anderson’s try, it certainly seemed the case when Ghietti added himself to the scorer’s sheet for the Pride’s fifth try in under 50 minutes.
After finally gaining repeated attacking sets, the Tigers were able to isolate a three-on-two on the left wing, allowing McInally to cross in the corner and avoid being held scoreless. Two minutes later, a collision in midfield gifted Kenny Bromwich a scoring opportunity, however on review it was deemed to have come forward off a Tigers player.
In a heated final few minutes which saw both sides finish the match with 11 on the field, Bowen added to his tally in the final minute of play to ice the victory and rewrite the record books.
For the Tigers, it was a disappointing end to their season but they can still feel proud of their achievement of reaching two consecutive grand finals.
Before the match, many people asked whether it was better to be rested or battled hardened – but it seemed the tough games the Tigers played against Wynnum Manly (in Week 1 and Week 3 of the finals) and the Pride in Week 2 used up a lot of their energy.
The Pride will now prepare for their next challenge – the NRL State Championship match against the winner of the NSW Cup final the Penrith Panthers.
Coach Jason Demetriou said his team were focused on the job ahead and had always marked the October 5 date as the final game of their season.
NORTHERN PRIDE 36 (Javid Bowen 2, Brett Anderson, Davin Crampton, Ryan Ghietti, Kyle Feldt tries; Shaun Nona 6 goals) def EASTS TIGERS 4 (Jarrod McInally try) at Suncorp Stadium.
Duncan Hall Medal: Shaun Nona (Northern Pride)
Halftime: Pride 18 - Easts Tigers 0
Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Javid Bowen 3. Brett Anderson (c) 4. Davin Crampton 5. Semi Tadulala 6. Shaun Nona 7. Sam Obst 8. Ricky Thorby 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Ethan Lowe 11. Blake Leary 12. Tyrone McCarthy 13. Ben Spina 14. Ryan Ghietti 15. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 16. Joel Riethmuller 20. Kyle Feldt
Easts Tigers: 1. Cameron Munster 2. Jarrod McInally 3. Shane Neumann 4. Donald Malone 5. Richie Kennar 6. Liam Tyson 7. Cody Walker 8. Steven Thorpe (c) 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Mitchell Garbutt 11. Dane Hogan 12. Troy Giess 14. Liam McDonald 15. Felise Kaufusi 16. Matthew Zgrajewski 20. Kenny Bromwich 18. Hymel Hunt