For the opening 10 minutes of the Round 18 clash between the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks and the Norths Devils both sides defended admirably and it looked set to be a tough match.
The Devils had several Broncos in their line-up and the home side were without some of their big names due to injury concerns and North Queensland Cowboys players being rested.
The Blackhawks drew first blood as winger Lenny Magey dived over in the corner to take the score to 4-0 after 10 minutes. A classy backline shift provided the next points for the home side as Samsen O’Neill touched down in the opposite corner fifteen minutes later.
With an 8-0 scoreline the Norths Devils were certainly still in the match towards the end of the first half, but some poor defence in the middle let the visitors down significantly. Jahrome Hughes was the first to take advantage, slicing through and racing away to hand Magey his double.
Zac Santo, playing fullback, was the next to capitalise on the lack of resistance up the middle as he brought the ball back from the 20m line and ran straight past the Devils defence to put centre Kyle Feldt over the line.
The floodgates had opened and the Blackhawks dominated the final 11 minutes of the first half. The home side went on to score three more tries, including a close range effort from Noel Underwood and a double to interchange hooker Nathan Norford. The score at the break was 38-0 to the Blackhawks.
To their credit, the Devils stepped up their defence in the second half and kept the second half scoreline at two tries to one to the Mendi Blackhawks.
Bronco Dale Copley set up the Devil’s only try of the match whilst team-mate Kodi Nikorima looked the player most likely to penetrate the home side’s line as he showed some speed out of dummy half. However the Blackhawks held strong despite a possession shift in the later stages of the match.
For the understrength Blackhawks, Santo was outstanding at the back, both in his positional play and leading the way with attacking raids. Forwards Lorenzo Ma’afu, Daniel Beasley and Neville Costigan were solid in gaining their side field position, especially in the first half as they hit the ball up with the same intensity as they exhibited in defence. Centre Feldt was strong on the edges and interchange prop Ricky Thorby made a huge impact in second half of the match.
Following the Devils win, coach Kristian Woolf was looking ahead to a tough two weeks.
“This weekend we had a good win with some key personnel missing but we are now focusing on a very tough next two rounds,” he said.
“Playing both Easts and PNG Hunters at their home grounds will be a real test for our side.
“They are two top five sides and both in good form, it will give our players a chance to test themselves moving towards the end of the season.”
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 50 (Lenny Magey 2, Nathan Norford 2, Kyle Feldt, Mosese Pangai, Tom Humble, Samsen O’Neill, Noel Underwood tries; Kyle Feldt 5, Tom Humble 2 goals) def NORTHS DEVILS 6 (Michael Lucas try; Liam Tyson goal) at Jack Manski Oval.
Townsville Blackhawks: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Zac Santo 3. Kyle Feldt 4. Moses Pangai 5. Lenny Magey 6. Tom Humble 20. Nathan Norford 8. Lorenzo Ma’afu 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Daniel Beasley (c) 19. Kelepi Tanginoa 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Neville Costigan 14. Samsen O’Neill 15. Chris McLean 16. Noel Underwood 17. Ricky Thorby
Norths Devils: 1. Dylan Galloway 2. Michael Lucas 3. Joel Bailey 4. Ryan Millard 5. Rogan Dean 6. Dan Murphy 7. Liam Tyson 8. Matt Mizzi 9. Byron Creighton 10. Brett Greinke (c) 11. Rhett Webster 14. Kodi Nikorima 13. Krys Freeman 15. Hiale Roycroft 18. Dale Copley 20. Dylan Smith 17. Billy Solah