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Devil Donovan's boot sinks Pride in close contest

Norths Devils have kept their unbeaten start to the 2021 season alive, with a Bryce Donovan field goal securing his team a 13-12 win over Northern Pride at Barlow Park.

Despite the weather, the Pride and Devils were able to produce an entertaining 80 minutes of football where the standard of play was high; however unforced errors did take their toll on the Pride.

Norths controlled the early play, with strong last tackle attacking kicks placing the Pride under pressure in the early minutes.

Pride fullback Jayden Corrigan had a mixed night under the high ball, but for most part proved a safe pair of hands.

After 14 minutes of play, Devils’ lock Ben Nakukuwai sliced through the Pride defence to open their account.

The conversion was successful by Tyson Gamble and the Devils took the early lead.

From the ensuing play restart, Pride front rower Rod Griffin as sin binned for 10 for repeat offences.

Playing one man down, the Pride tightened up in defence and still proved credible in their attack.

With rain sweeping across the ground, both teams played end-to-end football, displaying the ability to take easy metres whilst still controlling the football for the full tackle count.

Opportunities were evident for both teams; the Pride had an opportunity to score late in the half, with a 70 metre line break, looking set to score, however the Devils five-eighth Gamble found his legs and ran down a certain try.

Gamble had had spent the past two days in Darwin after being with the Broncos team for this clash against Parramatta.

On an early flight to Cairns after a late night, Gamble proved to be a game saver with that play.

The first half closed out 6-0 in favour of the visitors.

In the second half with the wind at their backs, the Pride attacked with vigour.

The Pride scored 16 minutes into the half from a fifth tackle cross-field kick by half-back Tom Steadman, with Corrigan crossing to put the Pride back in the game.

The conversion followed and the scores were level.

Eight minutes later the Pride took the lead after second rower, Joshua Stuckey crossed off the back of another strong kick. Clifford was successful again with his conversion, with the Pride now looking to upset the ladder leaders.

Unforced errors started to catch up with the Pride, after Corrigan spilt a high bomb in front of goal, allowing the Devils back into attack.

Nakubuwai picked up his second for the night and Gamble was accurate with his conversion, the game was tied up in difficult weather conditions.

With rain continuing to sweep across the field and with the wind at their back the Pride looked to slot a field goal.

Clifford’s attempt was waved away and with a final roll of the dice, the Devils drove the ball upfield, before Donovan capped the Devil’s night off in royal fashion slotting a 35-metre field goal to put his team up with less than two minutes remaining.

After the game, Pride captain Chris Ostwald said he was disappointed with the result.

“We had our chances, and we did not capitalise on them, the drop ball killed us,” Ostwald said.

“If we played the level of football, we are capable of, we could have run all over them tonight.”

Norther Pride coach Ty Williams felt his team got the result they deserved.

“We were poor in the first half. Stripped of possession three times on tackle one, we need to be better to compete with the higher-level teams," Williams said. 

“Tonight, our defence hung us in there and we can’t keep going back to that, we have to be better in our execution.”

He came down this morning from Darwin after a getting to bed at 1.30am, up at 5.30am to get a flight to Cairns.

Devils coach Rohan Smith on Tyson Gamble

Norths Devils coach Rohan Smith was pleased to come away with a win after expecting a tough game, and also considering both conditions as well as a strong Pride team playing at home.

“It was a good hard game, we came prepared for that,” he said. We know the Pride would be right up for it, they’ve had a strong start to the season,” Smith said.

“Our defence throughout the game strong, we were off our attacking game, but our defence was really strong.”

Smith praised the efforts of Gamble.

“He came down this morning from Darwin after a getting to bed at 1.30am, up at 5.30am to get a flight to Cairns. To go out and compete as he did was phenomenal.”

The Northern Pride are at home again next round when they play the Magpies.

The Devils will meet the Bears at Bishop Park in their Round 6 match.