Northern Pride coach Joe O’Callaghan has challenged his up-and-down side to maintain momentum heading into a season-defining month of fixtures after the Cairns outfit outclassed the Sunshine Coast Falcons yesterday (June 12).
The Pride capitalised on a fast start when normally defensive winger Justin Castellaro found himself in acres of space and scored comfortably in the fourth minute.
Castellaro thrilled fans again just five minutes later after pressure forced Falcons fullback Eddie Tautali to fumble a downfield kick, allowing the No.5 to pounce on the loose ball and convert yet again.
In a game which meant the Pride would remain in seventh place even with a win, O’Callaghan was pleased but wary of upcoming fixtures against Mackay, Easts Tigers and reigning premiers Ipswich.
“I’m a little bit frustrated in that I don’t know if we were bad enough in the ruck to deserve that many penalties,” he said. “We copped a fair few and the player (Colin Wilkie) obviously went to the bin. In saying that I was really proud of the way the boys stuck in with just 12 men and held in there.
“They had a fair bit of ball and for us to still put 30 points on them was great. Especially the last two tries we scored, because they came on the back of just holding them out and I think that frustrated them a little.”
Pride captain and five-eighth Ryan Ghietti said the side’s defence was the difference between the two and called on his teammates to maintain their organisation.
“In the last three or four weeks we’ve really focused on our ‘D’,” he said.
“We’ve really been back to basics with wingmen staying up and having three in tackles.
“It’s been about hitting and sticking and making sure they don’t have the chance to offload. We stuck to those processes and that really paid off.”
Cowboys allocation Shaun Hudson was among O’Callaghan’s post-game praise on the back of rock-solid tackling and a late try. He lined up alongside fellow Cowboy Coen Hess, who was honest on debut for the Pride.
NORTHERN PRIDE 32 (Justin Castellaro 2, Khan Ahwang, Colin Wilkie, Shaun Hudson tries; Khan Ahwang 6 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 12 (Ryley Jacks, Mark Nicholls tries; Tony Tumusa 2 goals) at Barlow Park.