Northern Pride were undeserving of an Intrust Super Cup finals spot if they failed to compete with the leading teams, dejected coach Joe O’Callaghan said after a big loss to Redcliffe.
The Dolphins stormed to an emphatic 36-6 win at Ravenshoe yesterday (July 24), virtually ending the Pride’s season despite the Far North club holding sway for the opening 20 minutes with the crowd in their favour.
Centre Justin Castellaro scored the opening try off a grubber kick in the 10th minute and it could have been 12-0 had Coen Hess correctly planted another ground ball.
Once possession was level, the Dolphins took control, posting two tries in the final 10 minutes of the opening half and two more in the first 11 minutes of the second half to run away with the game. O’Callaghan said being convincingly beaten was a sign his side didn’t deserve to be there in September.
Backs against wall
“If that’s the effort that you’re going to put in defensively and turn that up four or five weeks before the finals, it’s not a matter of mathematically or not, you’re probably not ready to be there in the finals anyway,” he said.
“It’s a young group as well, maybe the pressure’s got to them a bit, but again it’s probably those three or four games earlier in the year that we lost by six or less, that’s why we’re in the position we find ourselves in, with our backs against the wall.’’
O’Callaghan lamented his side’s inability to handle momentum swings, particularly after the no-try call.
“I don’t know if that’s a maturity thing or not now. You’d think hopefully 21 rounds into the season we’d get better at that. When you’re playing the No.2 side in the competition, you’ve got to handle those 10 to 15-minute periods better.
“In saying that, I thought we started the second half well again. We got back into the grind and then I think we had a scrum 10m out and again tried to score first set down there, didn’t get the result and they ran 100m and scored.”
O’Callaghan said despite the season slipping away he would be keeping the Pride on task and “keep trying all the way to the end”.
Dolphins hold firm
Redcliffe coach Adam Mogg said he was pleased with the way his undermanned side withstood wave after wave of Northern Pride attacks in the opening 20 minutes.
“Pride had six sets on our line and they scored off a grubber kick and I think that really set our win up,” he said.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game and that was probably the strongest side they could roll out bar Bowen and Svendsen, but we came here to play footy and we’ve got a very good forward pack and I think it’s a really positive result.”
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 36 (Jack Ahearn, Joshua Beehag, Zach Strasser, Daniel Randall, Jonus Pearson, Harley Aiono tries; Darren Nicholls 6 goals) def NORTHERN PRIDE 6 (Justin Castellaro try; Khan Ahwang goal) at Ravenshoe JRL Ground.