The Northern Pride opened their 2017 Intrust Super Cup account with a win, downing the QCCS Mackay Cutters at BB Print Stadium Mackay.
The two teams looked set for a titanic arm wrestle in the latest instalment of their now decade-long rivalry, before the Cairns-based outfit were able to overwhelm the hosts as a slow going first half gave way to a free flowing second stanza.
It was Mackay who came out looking for early ascendancy in the contest, as Nathan Saumalu came within inches of opening the scoring, but for some scrambling Pride defence.; while a short time later a deft grubber kick to the in-goal failed to be grounded properly as another opportunity went begging for the Cutters.
After surviving the early scares, it was the Northern Pride registering the first points as halfback Jared Allen darted over from close range off the back of a penalty.
It would turn out to be the only points in the first half as early season rustiness and changeable conditions prevented either team from finding any real rhythm, and the Pride headed to the break 4-0 ahead.
Mackay launched into the second half in much the same fashion as they started the first, and this time their eagerness for points was rewarded, with Saumalu bagging a long-overdue try as he found himself crossing out wide off the back of a sweeping backline play to level the game.
But the visitors were quick to respond as ill-discipline cost the Cutters field positon, and then cost them on the scoreboard as Justin Castellaro muscled his way across on an overlap to nudge the visitors back in front.
With momentum back on their side, the Pride were finding confidence and beginning to stretch their legs, and despite some sloppy lead-up work, they were able to extend the lead further with a backline play that had Gideon Gela-Mosby sneaking across in the corner to give the visitors an eight-point buffer.
The Cutters were guilty of shooting themselves in the foot as the contest wore on, and the Pride needed no second invitation as they marched down field off the back of the hosts’ mistakes and converted pressure into points when Will Bugden crashed over under the posts to push the lead beyond two converted tries.
The final scoring play of the game all but summed the kind of night the Cutters had endured.
Pressuring the line on the final tackle, the hosts hoisted a high cross field bomb intended for the outside backs.
Instead, the ball found its way into the arms of a Pride defender and a quick pass found flyer Gela-Mosby, who streaked all 100m to score next to the posts, sealing a solid first up victory for the Northern Pride, 24 points to 4.
NORTHERN PRIDE 24 (Gideon Gela-Mosby 2, Jared Allen, Justin Castellaro, Ben Spina tries; Khan Ahwang 2 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 4 (Nathan Saumalu try) at BB Print Stadium, Mackay