Winger Linc Port scored three tries to inspire the Northern Pride to their first win of the season - a thrilling 18-16 comeback win over Redcliffe Dolphins on Saturday night at The Jungle.
Pride insisted all week they needed just one game to turn around their season. In the end it took only 25 minutes.
The Intrust Super Cup premiers’ campaign got the kiss of life it craved thanks to a frenetic victory over Redcliffe.
The hosts trailed 16-0 following 55 minutes of errorstrewn footy, before a whirlwind Linc Port hat-trick got Barlow Park rocking and brought the margin back to two points with 10 to go.
Backrower Graham Clark then gave the Pride the lead, bursting on to a short pass with three minutes on the clock.
Hooker Cameron King missed the conversion from near the posts to extend a horror goalkicking streak, but it mattered little to rookie coach Joe O’Callaghan and a buzzing home crowd.
“Even if we hadn’t got the two points I think we showed enough in that second-half to show that we are starting to come together,” O’Callaghan said.
“It doesn’t take a genius to see that we stayed away from the middle at the start of both halves.
“It wasn’t about being soft; it just wouldn’t be smart to take on a pack that is physically bigger.
“We were able to grind it out and it paid off.”
In a pack missing Ben Spina, young guns Dave Murphy and Sheldon Powe-Hobbs were outstanding.
“Sheldon just kept going into that line all night,” O’Callaghan said.
“We challenged those boys to cover for the loss of Spina and I thought they did a good job.”
O’Callaghan has been at pains during the 0-4 start to the season to remind his titledefending side it’s a new year.
But the grinding win capped by late theatrics channelled every bit of what the Pride were about in 2014: scrappy, hungry and clinical when it mattered most.
“We’ve spoken all week about how big their squad is but size isn’t everything,” O’Callaghan said.
“I’ll back these boys and their fitness showed in the second half.
“I thought they (Redcliffe) put the cue in the rack with 15 minutes to go.”
It must not be forgotten the Pride looked destined for another loss for much of the night after an error-riddled first 40 minutes.
O’Callaghan tore strips off his troops at the break after endless attacking raids were snuffed out by poor hands.
Indeed, the Pride didn’t just shoot themselves in the foot, they nearly amputated the ankle too.
“Our first half wasn’t good enough,” O’Callaghan said.
“Why do we have to wait until we are down and me having a spray at half-time to get us going?
“The monkey on my back had turned into a gorilla but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
“What has got us back here is hard work.
“I’ve heard those boys sing the team song plenty of times but I don’t know if I’ve heard it with that much feeling in a long time.”
NORTHERN PRIDE 18 (Linc Port 3, Graham Clark tries; Cameron King goal) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 16 (Tom Opacic, Shane Pumipi, Josh Benjamin tries; Luke Capewell 2 goals) at Barlow Park.
Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Linc Port 3. Javid Bowen 4. Luke George 5. Codey Kennedy 6. Ryan Ghietti 7. Sam Obst 8. Jack Svendsen 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi 12. Graham Clark 19. Brent Oosen 14. Cameron King 15. Tom Hancock 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 17. David Murphy
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Joe Bond 2. Marty Hatfield 3. Tristan Lumley 4. Aaron Whitchurch 5. Tom Opacic 6. Evander Cummins 7. Luke Capewell (c) 8. Charlie Faingaa 21. Shane Pumipi 10. Jon Green 11. Josh Benjamin 12. Harley Aiono 13. Trent Richardson 14. Darcy Etrich 15. Tom Geraghty 16. Anthony Cherrington 17. Taylor Brown