Northern Pride players have shown the resilience coach Joe O’Callaghan has been waiting to see all season in a sign fans could be in for a positive send-off at home next weekend.
The Pride battled against weight of possession, penalties and a first-half ankle injury to fullback Linc Port to record a rare Intrust Super Cup win against Tweed Heads Seagulls at Piggabeen yesterday.
The visitors led 12-0 at halftime and put the game beyond doubt with three tries in the opening 13 minutes of the second half, only conceding late in the game.
O’Callaghan said even opposition coach Aaron Zimmerle said he was impressed with the defensive effort of the Pride; proof players still have passion for the jersey despite finals hopes being dashed.
“The way we kept turning up for each other was quite impressive,” O’Callaghan said.
“There were two or three occasions where we had to defend five or six sets in a row on our own line and we held them out.
“We kind of turned that around into quick points pretty quickly,” he said.
“We rode out those periods a lot better today, so there’s positive signs there for fans going into 2017.”
O’Callaghan said his side showed no signs of the class missing from the middle of the park, with Aidan Day and Ben Reuter thriving on more minutes.
They also dealt well with the positional switches of Jared Allen and skipper Ryan Ghietti after losing the injured Port.
“The other satisfying thing for us was to be as dominant as we were without Coen Hess and Patrick Kaufusi. Everyone contributed to the win, 1-17, especially defensively,” O’Callaghan said.
“Even when a bit of a curve ball was thrown at us ... we ripped in.”
O’Callaghan said he was pleased to see players find motivation despite the season slipping away.
“I spoke to them to other day about trying to find fresh challenges each week, and it’s hard,” he said.
“Obviously we hadn’t had a good record at Piggabeen going into this week so we came through on that,” he said.
The next challenge will be putting on a good show for the Barlow Park faithful at the last home game of the season against PNG Hunters, which would be another feather in the cap for the Pride against top-six teams.
“If we can knock off PNG after beating Redcliffe, Easts, Burleigh and Sunshine Coast this year, there’s not many teams that can say they’ve beat all of them this year,” O’Callaghan said.
NORTHERN PRIDE 30 (Tom Hancock 2, Jack Svendsen, Khan Ahwang, Jordan Biondi-Odo tries; Khan Ahwang 5 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 4 (Jacob Garland try) at Piggabeen Sports.