THE Northern Pride have won the right to rest key troops against the Capras next week after finally punching their finals ticket.
The horrors of the premiers’ one and only previous venture to the northernmost part of Queensland was erased with a clinical 26-10 disposal of Norths at Bamaga yesterday.
In front of a vocal crowd, the Pride did the job expected of them, unaware of the fact Redcliffe’s loss to Easts earlier in the day made the Yusia Ginau Oval result redundant.
Yet the form surge could prove crucial, as will the fact the Pride will be tempted to give a break to tireless props Sheldon Powe-Hobbs and Jack Svendsen against the Capras.
There’s also a chance retiring veteran Alex Starmer will get a Barlow Park farewell, a fitting end for a club stalwart whose season has been ruined by a persistent shoulder injury.
Winger Semi Tadulala could also earn a run, though it would be a tough call to tinker with Linc Port’s form and rest him given another try-scoring double.
Norths coach Mark Gliddon saw enough to be convinced the Pride could yet climb a finals mountain from sixth position.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot between them,” he said of the finals sides.
“They will probably get Ben Spina back next week and he’s their best player. And if they keep Sam Obst fit they are as good a chance as anyone.”
After centre Justin Castellaro opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Rogan Dean returned serve for the Devils.
From there the Pride were never headed and now look certain for an opening finals weekend trip to Ipswich for an elimination final with the Jets.
While the Pride can start contemplating questions for rivals, the Devils learned a few crucial answers in Bamaga.
The Far North visitors were left ruing poor execution in a contest that threatened to be a speed bump for the home team.
“We were certainly in the game, but their ground work was a lot better,” Gliddon said.
“The Pride are the premiers and we tried to sell it as our big chance to knock off a top-six side.
“But they deserved the win and there are a few guys out there for us who won’t be here next year.”
Gliddon hailed the efforts of winger Michael Lucas and prop Dylan Smith for delivering a strong performance in front of a crowd delighted to sample big league footy.
“The people and the facilities have been fantastic,” Gliddon said.
“Rod Jensen and everyone at the Pride has looked after us so we couldn’t have asked for any more.”
NORTHERN PRIDE 26 (Linc Port 2, Justin Castellaro, Sam Obst, Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi, Tom Hancock tries; Justin Castellaro goal) def NORTHS 10 (Michael Lucas, Rogan Dean tries; Liam Tyson goal) at Yusia Ginau Oval, Bamaga.
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Final Team lists
Norths Devils: 1. Luke Pollock 2. Michael Lucas 3. Joel Bailey 4. Ryan Millard 5. Rogan Dean 6. Dan Murphy 7. Liam Tyson 8. Michael Molo 9. Byron Creighton 10. Billy Solah 11. Kristian Wanka 12. Brett Greinke (c) 13. Krys Freeman 14. Will McNee 16. Rhett Webster 20. Dylan Smith 17. Josh Afoa
Northern Pride: 1. Linc Port 22. Javid Bowen 3. Brett Anderson (c) 4. Justin Castellaro 5. Luke George 20. Ryan Ghietti 7. Sam Obst 8. Jack Svendsen 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Vaipuna Tia Kilifi 12. Graham Clark 18. Brent Oosen 14. Jordan Biondi-Odo 15. Tom Hancock 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 17. David Murphy