Norths Devils pushed two wins clear at the top of the Intrust Super Cup table after surging home for a 40-16 victory over Mackay Cutters in an entertaining Country Week clash in Dysart.
The Devils raced in three tries in the last 10 minutes to record their 12th win from 13 matches.
With Wynnum Manly losing to Burleigh earlier in the afternoon, coach Rohan Smith’s team are now four points clear of second place with six matches until the finals.
But tonight’s clash before a boisterous Dysart crowd was tighter than the final scoreline suggested.
The match was in the balance with 10 minutes remaining after the Cutters continued to pressure the Devils, who led by just six points.
But the Devils blew the game apart when a tip from prop Michael Molo found a charging Piki Rogers, who sprinted down the field before passing to fullback Matthew Milson for a try on his Norths debut.
Two tries followed – one to Devils debutant centre Jacob Gagan before Connor Broadhurst’s 78th minute try put the exclamation mark on a strong second half for Norths.
Winger Jon Reuben scored two tries to mark his 100th Intrust Super Cup clash in typical style.
Reuben’s first try in the 25th minute came from nothing – he had little sideline to work with, but he placed a deft kick into the in-goal and was too fast for the defence.
The Devils’ seven tries tonight lifted their tally to 46 from their last six matches.
The Devils rallied around centre Tony Tumusa, who suffered a potentially serious ankle injury in the 28th minute.
Tumusa was racing down the left touchline trying to add to his tally as the competition’s leading tryscorer before his leg was caught in a tackle. He will undergo scans once the Devils return to Brisbane to determine the extent of the injury.
“We were pressured by the Cutters and we had to work hard tonight to get that win,” Smith said.
“We overplayed our hand at different times, but our defence in the second half was very good and we gave ourselves a chance to score tries.
“This has been a good chance for our team to get away together and to experience country football. Dysart has been a great host."
The Cutters were hindered by a knee injury to prop Jack Brock early in the match, but they hit the front with tries to Josh Smith (16th minute) and Ross Bella (20th minute).
The Devils reshuffled their backline when Tumusa was injured, moving Jack Miers to the halves, pushing five-eighth Connor Broadhurst into the centres and Bernard Gregorius to the wing.
Captain Jack Ahearn gave the Devils a perfect start with a try in the second minute from a dummy close to the Cutters’ line.
Match: Blackhawks v Devils
Round 12 -
Venue: Jack Manski Oval, Townsville
The Devils return north next weekend to play Townsville Blackhawks.
Match: Hunters v Cutters
Round 12 -
Venue: Bycroft Oval, Gold Coast
The Cutters travel to Runaway Bay to take on the PNG Hunters.