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Saturday wrap: Falcons fly against Norths to remain in finals race

Sunshine Coast Falcons remain in the race for finals after a big win over Norths Devils at Bishop Park. 

Melbourne Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen lined up for the Falcons for the second week in a row and scored his first try since returning.

Falcons captain Sam Burns said he was proud of his side for competing hard the whole 80 minutes and remaining in the race for finals with one regular round to go.

"It was a really good game... the boys competed really hard for the whole game," Burns said.

"A win is a win for us... we just need to keep going this week and next week, and pray to God a few results go our way so we can get to the finals."

Burns said there were plenty of standout performers. 

"I thought our whole forward pack was really special," Burns said.

"I thought our back rowers, especially Jack Howarth... and Jack Gibbons and Louis Geraghty, they went over for a couple of tries each. That was really good.

"Luke Polselli is always really fiery and then the class of Ryan Papenhuyzen out the back of shape, he was everywhere today. He even made try-saving tackle, went 80 metres and he was the first one there to get a tackle for us and earn a result which gave us the ball back. We actually got down the end in the next set and scored so that was a massive play from Paps.

Ryan Papenhuyzen. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL
Ryan Papenhuyzen. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL

"It's been a long road for him, so it's good to see him back. Not only his knee, but with a bad run with concussions, so he hasn't played that much in the last year and a half so it's just good. He's smiling heaps because he loves his footy and misses footy a lot. Coming back for the Falcons is enjoyable for him too. He loves it here, loves all the boys and we love him too."

Burns said moving forward the Falcons needed to stick with their game plan should they want to see success for the rest of this year.

"We just need to stick to the game plan and be a bit more consistent, throughout the 80 minutes where, yeah, we're really, really good in sort of 10, 15, 20-minute stints and then we sort of clock off maybe five or 10, which gets the opposition back in the game," Burns said.

"So we've probably got to get ahead, which we have been starting really well the last couple of weeks, but we just got to really put the foot on the pedal and really get ahead on those teams and be a little bit more relentless.

"And yeah, hopefully the results will come, even if it's a close win or a blow out, we just got to be a bit more consistent in both sides of the footy - in attack and defence."

Norths Devils coach Dave Elliott said it had not been the season his team wanted, now out of the race for finals, but he was proud of his side.

The Devils welcomed back the 2022 Duncan Hall Medal winner for best player in the grand final Jacob Gagan from the Newtown Jets.

"Obviously not the season that everyone wanted... everyone starts the year wanting to play finals," Elliott said.

Jack Ahearn. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL
Jack Ahearn. Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL

"We've had a bit of an up and down season, we've had some stuff internally with players leaving and so forth, for different reasons. But it's been good in the sense that we've been able to play some of our younger guys.

"A lot of those guys out there are are actually 22 years old. They'll learn from this year... sometimes you got to learn the hard way unfortunately.

"But credit to the Falcons today... right now, they're a good side. They're getting a lot of NRL players that give them that experience and confidence.

"I was just really proud of the boys that we just kept fighting until the end and we certainly didn't give up."

Elliott added the year was not over yet.

"It's been a tough year but we'll roll up our sleeves again next week for PNG and then enjoy some time off and get ready again for season 2024," Elliott said.

Elsewhere, Northern Pride kept themselves in the finals race with a two-point win over Western Clydesdales.

PNG Hunters fought back from being down most of the game to topple Townsville Blackhawks in Port Moresby.

Burleigh Bears proved too good for Mackay Cutters in the second last round of the season.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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