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Norths withstand Townsville fightback for Colts honours

The Norths Devils have become the inaugural Hasting Deering Colts premiers with a hard-fought win over the Townsville Blackhawks, 20-16.

While there were five tries in the first half, the second half was all about defence as the game came down to a nail-biting final 10 minutes.

Norths premier-winning coach Kevin Neighbour said he couldn't be any happy for his side and coaching staff.

"I need to sit down to be honest," he said. "Just the emotion from the whole year, when we set out we didn't know what this year was going to become and as we gradually got through the weeks; we thought we could have a chance at the finals.

"Once we got in we thought 'why don't we give it a crack' and that's what we've done.
"The kids knocked down every challenge we put in front of them and they kept wanting more and to get better.

"We knew it was going to be a very tough game and they're (Townsville) a very good side, being the minor premiers with fantastic players, so we just kept having to turn up for each other in defence, stay calm, stay connected, and just be together and that's what we did."

After a couple of early errors from both teams, the Devils were first to crack the Blackhawks defence with a perfect face-ball from co-captain Kobe Hetherington to fellow co-captain Joseph McGuire, sending the prop forward crashing over the try-line in the ninth minute.

During their next trip to the Blackhawks end of the field, the Devils declined the chance to add an extra two points to the scoreboard with a penalty right in from of the posts.

The decision proved to be a great one as the Devils crossed for their second in the 16th minute with backrower Nesta Watene beating everyone to the ball off Cory Paix's grubber kick.

The Devils first half flurry continued as Watene, using remarkable slight-of-hand, sent Liam Horne into open space with a brilliant offload for their third try before the 25-minute mark.

The Blackhawks finally opened their scoring account after the Devils gifted them great field position with a knock-on 10 metres out from their line.

That chance was all the Blackhawks needed to get back into the game as Duarne Dempsey burrowed his way over from dummy-half to close the Devils lead to 16-6.

With just two minutes left in the first half, the Blackhawks crossed again in quick succession through winger Tom McCagh to fight their way back to 16-12 at the break.

After a tough 10 minutes of footy to begin the second half, both teams started to get even more physical with their contact as McGuire, the game's first try scorer and younger brother of Broncos resident hard man Josh McGuire, was put on report for a hit on Townsville's Nathan Barrett.

It took almost 30 minutes to break the second half stalemate and after plenty of back-and-forth of possession, the Devils seized the opportunity to go beyond a converted try ahead with fullback David Fauid diving over in the corner.

Townsville tried to return serve, regathering a short kick-off and almost crossing over in the corner themselves with three minutes remaining, but the Devils defence swarmed to push the Blackhawks into touch.

The Blackhawks eventually scored in the opposite corner as time expired but it was all too late as Norths held on to win the first ever Hastings Deering Colts title.

See the full scoring details and final team line-ups for this game via QRL Live 

NORTHS DEVILS 20 (Joseph McGuire, Nesta Watene, Liam Horne, David Fauid tries; Gerome Burns 2 goals) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 16 (Duarne Dempsey, Tom McCagh, Ben Condon tries; Adam Cook 2 goals) at Suncorp Stadium (Halftime: Norths 16-12) 
Man of the Match: Nesta Watene (Norths Devils)

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