HISTORY repeated in Round 1, but the Northern Pride will immediately snap it in Round 2 by naming an unchanged 17 for the first time under Joe O’Callaghan.
Despite the gutting 25-24 defeat to Sunshine Coast in yesterday’s Intrust Super Cup opener, the Pride will retain faith in the same line-up for Sunday’s home clash with Mackay.
The promise is testament to the fact the reconstructed Pride were not far away from the points against the Falcons, who overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to steal the win.
In a chilling repeat of the 0-4 start that plagued the Pride in 2015, the visitors were so deprived of the ball in the opening 10 minutes they would have needed a diagram to understand what it looked like.
Yet they ground their way back and, with the aid of Khan Ahwang’s monster torpedoes, looked good for the win by the break.
But in an echo of pre-season concerns, the young Pride roster went for the knockout haymaker rather than death by jabs as Mareeba junior Ben Hampton inspired the comeback.
Despite the loss, O’Callaghan says learning — not changes — is the only way forward.
“This 17 will play next week,” he said. “They showed me enough, but as long as they learn, that’s the main thing.
“There’s no secret potion — we spoke at halftime about being patient and not trying to get it done in the first few minutes.
“We are trying to land that killer punch too quick and if we are still doing that in four weeks I’ll be very frustrated.”
The Pride will be desperate to prove there is life after their retired stars when they face the Cutters, who lost to the Capras in Round 1.
“At 24-10 (against the Falcons), we finish it off with (Sam) Obst and (Jason) Roos, but it’s not about that anymore,” O’Callaghan said.
“We clicked a lot better than Round 1 last year.
“But full credit to Sunny Coast, they were sensational in that second-half and I think we were playing a genuine top-six side.”
Mackay will likely regain Cowboys 18th man Josh Chudleigh for the trip to Barlow Park.
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SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 25 (Matthew Grieve 2, Ryley Jacks, Curtis Scott, Nelson Asofa-Solomona tries; Patrick Hollis 2 goals; Ryley Jacks field goal) def NORTHERN PRIDE 24 (Jared Allen, Linc Port, Shaun Hudson, Ben Spina tries; Khan Ahwang 4 goals) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
Read all the Round 1 match reports:
New Jets help secure Round 1 win
Kim’s Capras spoil Mackay’s party
Bears roar in second half blitz
Second-half comeback secures win for Tweed
Blackhawks win tight match v Phins
PNG open account v Magpies