The Norths Devils continued their stellar start to the Mal Meninga Cup season with an emphatic 30-16 win in their Rivalry Round clash against the Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park last Sunday.
With both sides heading into the clash undefeated, the local derby doubled as an early top-of-the-table showdown featuring a number of players who are part of the QRL Under 18 Emerging Origin squad.
Norths featured Ethan Bullemor, Brock Diment, Corey Paix and Zak McGuire with Fanitesi Niu and David Fifita both lining up for the Magpies.
It was the Devils who gained the early ascendency with four first half tries, including one to captain Paix, to help them skip away to a handy 20-0 halftime lead.
The Magpies then began to demonstrate why they are being billed as early title contenders when they began the second half with intent; registering three tries in 10 minutes to bring the score back to 20-16 with 15 minutes to go.
The revival was short-lived however, as tries to hooker Ethan Le Blanc and lock Lachlan Lewis pushed the game out of reach of the Magpies and further cemented the Devils claims to favouritism for the Mal Meninga Cup.
Devils coach Troy Bishop praised the high standard of both sides and believes his side’s control and composure was key to establishing a dominant first half lead that proved instrumental in the result.
“It was probably one of the better Mal Meninga games that I’ve been involved in and we controlled possession really well in the first half and took our chances when they came about,” Bishop said.
Alongside captain Paix, Bishop highlighted fellow Emerging Origin squad member Bullemor as a standout through the middle of the park while backrower Nesta Watene was instrumental in limiting the impact that talented Magpies forward Fifita had on the game.
When asked about the potential of taking out the Mal Meninga competition, Bishop was quick to highlight the number of quality sides who were capable of claiming the title this year.
But that not to say he wasn’t hopeful of running deep into the competition.
“It’s a pretty tight competition and I’d like to say we’d be there when the whips are cracking, so we want to improve on what we do each week and improve on a week to week basis to set the standard,” he said.
In other Rivalry Round results, the Mackay Cutters pushed their own title claims as they continued their unbeaten start to the year with a 26-12 win over the Capras.
The battle of the north saw the Northern Pride keep the Townsville Blackhawks scoreless to win 36-0 while Tweed Heads stunned Burleigh to produce a classy 36-6 win at Piggabeen.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Round 4 games; the Devils will host defending champions Western Mustangs while Burleigh and Souths Logan will both be looking to rebound from tough losses when they meet at Pizzey Park.
Mackay will look to continue their undefeated start when they travel to Barlow Park to face the Northern Pride in another northern clash.