Northern Pride proved the bookmakers wrong with a 22-18 victory over the reigning Intrust Super Cup premiers Redcliffe Dolphins.
On a greasy Barlow Park surface, the home side took full advantage of a clever kicking game spearheaded by North Queensland Cowboys gun Jake Clifford.
Clifford kicked the Dolphins off the park in a display that will no doubt serve as a reminder to Cowboys coach Paul Green of his ability.
Match: Pride v Dolphins
Round 1 -
Venue: Barlow Park, Cairns
The Dolphins were their own worst enemy at times with poor discipline and several unforced errors that led directly to the Pride scoring.
It was Pride who opened the scoring when a Gideon Gela-Mosby kick ricocheted off Dolphins fullback Trai Fuller, and Tom Hancock pounced on the loose ball to score.
It was a mixed day for Dolphins fullback Fuller; he had a couple of critical handling errors, but produced a classic cover defending tackle to stop a certain Pride try.
The match went from end to end for next half hour with neither side able to put the other side away until the 35th minute, when Josh Beehag couldn’t handle a Biondi-Odo kick with Gideon Gela-Mosby on the spot to put the Pride out to a 12-0 lead.
With the half-time siren closing in, the Dolphins were looking for something special to get on the scoreboard.
That came from interchange prop Tom Geraghty, who slipped a clever ball to Taylor Brown, who still had a lot of work to do; he ran 20 metres to score.
After the break, the game went from end to end for the for first 13 minutes before the crowd were brought to life with three tries in seven minutes; one to the Pride’s Shawn Bowen, then to the Dolphins' Scott Schulte and Nick Brown.
With the Dolphins on the attack - looking to get back to 16-16 or possibly hit the lead for the first time - a loose Fuller pass was cleverly flicked up by Bowen to a waiting Nene McDonald.
McDonald then put an in-and-away on Dolphins winger Jeremy Hawkins and out- sprinted Fuller in a 60-metre run down the sideline that brought the crowd to their feet.
With the Pride looking to close the game down, the Dolphins weren’t about to finish wondering when Cory Paix stepped back inside and found a hard-running Brayden Dee, who crossed to bring the scores back to 22-18.
But time was against the visitors and it saw the Pride run out deserving winners 22-18.
Best for the Pride were Jake Clifford, Peter Hola, Tom Hancock and their bookeneds Will Bugden and Aiden Day never stopped working.
While Jamil Hopoate, Nick Brown and Tom Geraghty led the way for the Dolphins.
Pride next face PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.
Match: Hunters v Pride
Round 2 -
Venue: Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
The Dolphins next take on Sunshine Coast Falcons, in the battle for the James Ackerman Cup.
Match: Dolphins v Falcons
Round 2 -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
* Photo of Jake Clifford in action in 2018.