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Saints' first half bonanza key to convincing win

Norths St Josephs' 24 unanswered points in the first half proved to be the catalyst that saw counterparts Albany Creek Crushers go down 30-18 in the Intech Men’s Open 3 Northside clash last Saturday at Warburton Park.

The Saints - superbly led by halfback Zak Ryan - proved too strong at home in what was a fantastic all-round team performance.

It only took three minutes of play for St Joseph’s to get the scoreboard ticking over when hooker Trent Payne darted from dummy-half and raced away unscathed to score beside the sticks.

With the bitterly cold westerly winds sweeping across the field, the action was only hotting up on it, as the home side were in again on the 14-minute mark through Cruz Alexander, who latched onto a pinpoint pass from playmaker Ryan to slide in under the posts.

The Crushers defence was their biggest flaw in this game, allowing the home side to run freely up the middle, and this was proving to be a headache for the visitors as they had constantly been on the back foot from the kickoff.

The Saints were impressive at Warburton Park. Photo: Mike Simpson
The Saints were impressive at Warburton Park. Photo: Mike Simpson

Ryan again was the main man in the next four-pointer, dummying and weaving his way through the Albany Creek defence.

The smart half found his lock in support who made no mistake planting the ball over the line.

Other sides would have crumbled by now, but the Crushers - albeit their defensive lapses - were still being guided around the park by the experienced Matt Lennon, who was superb in a losing side.

St Joseph’s attack was near inch perfect in this game with lots of flashy moves and good open fast paced rugby league, much to the delight of the hardy souls who braved the elements.

Saints centre Alexander - who was proving to be a handful for the Crushers defence -  crossed for his double in the 29th minute, after packing in at lock and breaking away from the scrum having found the Crushers defence napping right in front of the uprights.

At 24-0, the Crushers look deflated, but it took some clever play from halfback Lennon that created an opportunity for replacement player Ezekiel Amituanai to go in for the visitors first try right on the stroke of half-time.

A spirited comeback looked on the cards for the visitors when Lennon spotted an opening five metres out and snuck under the defence to score seven minutes into the second half.

Albany Creek carry the ball forward. Photo: Mike Simpson
Albany Creek carry the ball forward. Photo: Mike Simpson

However, St Joseph’s prop Daniel Jones had other ideas when he carted the ball up and smashed his way through the defence to score right under the sticks further edging out the scoreline.

The intensity of the game lifted dramatically when Albany Creek replacement George Frost-Harder barged his way over for a late try to see them trail 28-18.

The Crushers - led by Aukoso Magele and Issac Tivalu - tried hard in a losing side, but time was running out for the visitors as they continued to stay in the fight.

And as that glimmer of hope was still burning for the Crushers, the game was finally wrapped up by Norths halfback Ryan, who slotted a penalty goal right on full-time to see the home side run out well-deserved victors.