The ladder-leading Northern Pride overcame several injury setbacks to record a 38-26 victory over the Central Queensland Capras in their Intrust Super Cup clash in Rockhampton on Saturday night.
Pride coach Jason Demetriou was forced to make two changes late in the week, with young gun Jordan Biondi-Ono and veteran winger Semi Tadulala replacing Cowboys NRL squad members Matthew Wright (hand) and Javid Bowen (cork).
After gaining his recall, Tadulala was then forced from the field with a pectoral injury and North Queensland front-rower Ricky Thorby limped off with a knee injury midway through the first half.
Despite the setbacks, the Pride managed to score six tries, with Cowboys hooker Cameron King and Shaun Nona notching doubles.
Keen to break into North Queensland’s NRL 17, King has now scored three tries in two ISC appearances.
The Pride led 18-14 at half time but fell behind eight minutes into the second half when Capras centre Marlon Doak scored from Mark Johnston chip kick and Theeran Pearson added the conversion.
The Pride regrouped and posted the next three tries of the round two clash to clinch an impressive victory.
Demetriou said he was pleased to start the season with two wins.
“We’ll keep looking for that effort, and at the moment we can’t fault them,” he said.
While the Pride are two wins from two, the Mackay Cutters remain without a win after losing 24-16 to the PNG Hunters in Kokopo.
Heavy rain created difficult conditions for the players and kept some fans away, but little could dampen the mood in the Hunters camp after they posted two late tries to clinch their first win on home soil.
About 1500 fans generated an electric atmosphere and they were at their most boisterous in the final 10 minutes when the physical contest was in the balance.
The gritty Cutters looked on target to spoil the home town party when former Cowboys NYC forward Dan Beasley barged over and Liam Taylor converted for a 16-14 lead.
But the Cutters paid a high price for an early turnover from the restart, gifting the Hunters field possession and a golden chance to build pressure.
They were good enough to convert with a 75th minute try to Noel Zemming putting them back in front 18-16.
Feeding off the home support, giant Hunters centre Thompson Teteh ignited the early celebrations when he forced his way over on the stroke of full time.
“It was lost in that last 10 minutes when we dropped the ball four times from tackle one or two … that’s it, right there,” Cutters coach Kim Williams said.
“We were in the lead and the game was there for us to win and we lost it. Full credit to the Hunters, when it was crunch time they held on to the ball and put points on us.”
The Pride will host the Redcliffe Dolphins this weekend, while the Cutters have a bye.
NORTHERN PRIDE 38 (Shaun Nona 2, Cameron King 2, Davin Crampton, Ben Spina tries; Shaun Nona 7 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 26 (Rhys Williams 2, Marlon Doak, Marco Delapena, Sam Pierce tries; Theeran Pearson 3 goals) at Browne Park.
PNG HUNTERS 24 (Thompson Teteh 2, Adex Wera, Garry Lo, Noel Zemming tries; Roger Laka, Noel Zemmimg goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 16 (Dan Beasley, Tyson Martin, Dan Murphy tries, Liam Taylor 2 goals).