A SEASON-best performance from fearless backrower Graham Clark has ensured the kings of the grind got their groove back on Saturday night.
A week after losing an ugly Intrust Super Cup arm wrestle against Mackay, the Northern Pride proved they can still master the scrap with a 24-18 comeback victory over Tweed.
The hosts lost Cowboys flyer Javid Bowen to a dislocated shoulder during the contest to add to a growing casualty ward, but battled on bravely in a win to stay on finals pace.
Jack Svendsen sat out the second 40 with back spasms, while Brett Anderson (concussion), Luke George (elbow), Ryan Ghietti (head) and Clark (ankle) all nursed injuries.
“It was good to get that one after what we went through last week,” coach Joe O’Callaghan said.
“In the second half I thought it was a matter of when, not if, we’d get over.
“The boys showed a lot of heart; we played with 15 blokes in that second half.
“It was a great win considering how busted we were.”
Clark led the way with two tries despite an ankle niggle that had him struggling to walk after the match.
The Innisfail product got valuable support from fellow forwards Vaipuna Tia Kilifi and Ben Spina, who was outstanding after a below-par effort against the Cutters.
Dave Murphy’s development continued after the youngster was used as a makeshift centre for the final 25 minutes after Bowen’s injury.
“When I told him he’d be playing in the centres it was a pretty interesting face he gave me back,” O’Callaghan smiled. “He’s a big centre.”
It wasn’t always the prettiest contest, but there was much to like for the Pride.
Their reputation of being able to grind teams to dust lost some sheen against Mackay, but they made up for it against a Tweed side that, while sloppy, never threw in the towel.
“It was probably the most disappointing game I’ve had to sit on the sideline for,” Seagulls coach Aaron Zimmerle said.
“For 20 minutes we played.
“They put in every week, but we are shooting ourselves in the foot and just defending.”
O’Callaghan would have feared the worst when a tonne of errors saw the visitors skip to an 18-10 lead at the break.
But a try to Bowen, who sustained his injury while planting the ball, and a Linc Port brace ensured the points.
“There was a lot more urgency in the second half than the first,” O’Callaghan said.
“We knew at half time if we’d gone out there and turned a lot of ball over again we’d be up against it. We had to learn that from last week.”
While he only landed two from six attempts, several from out wide, winger Port was hailed for taking on the troublesome goal kicking duties.
“That kid would have hit 50 or 60 balls at training,” O’Callaghan said.
“His head was down a bit in the sheds ... but you saw the way he was striking them he has got it in him.”
NORTHERN PRIDE 24 (Linc Port 2, Graham Clark 2, Javid Bowen tries; Linc Port 2 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 18 (Blake Anderson 2, Matt Robinson tries; Jamal Fogarty 3 goals) at Barlow Park.
Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Linc Port 3. Brett Anderson (c) 4. Javid Bowen 5. Luke George 6. Ryan Ghietti 7. Sam Obst 8. Jack Svendsen 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi 12. Graham Clark 13. Ben Spina 14. Cameron King 15. Tom Hancock 16. Sheldon Powe Hobbs 17. Dave Murphy
Tweed Heads Seagulls: 1. Shaun Carney 2. Nathanael Barnes 3. Leva Li 5. Kalifa Faifai-Loa 6. Ricardo Parata 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Damian Sironen (c) 9. Sam Meskell 10. Oliver Percy 11. Matt Robinson 12. Dane Clarke 13. Sam Saville 14. Blake Anderson 15. Mark Offerdahl 16. Matt White 17. Will Bugden 18. Ethan Price