The Norths Devils kept pace with the Northern Pride at the top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder by scoring a comfortable 30-10 victory over defending premiers Mackay Cutters in Brisbane on Sunday.
On the back of a last-start win against Wynnum-Manly, and with 2013 grand final man-of-the-match Anthony Mitchell back in their lineup, the Cutters were expected to threaten Norths’ unbeaten record.
However, the round five clash was virtually over early in the second half when the Devils led 18-4 in wet conditions.
The home side looked the stronger team early, with a try to winger Kainga Turner disallowed after the video referee deemed a Mackay player had been illegally taken out of the play.
The resulting changeover saw the Cutters wrestle back the momentum, pinning the Devils inside their own half before centre Josh Benjamin crossed the line to give the visitors first points with 11 minutes gone.
With the Cutters piling on the pressure, a Zac Santo kick in the 26th minute found Liam Taylor inside the try line on the right edge, seemingly bringing up Mackay’s second try of the match, before insufficient video footage saw the on-field call of no try stand after the video referee could not be certain Taylor had been on-side prior to the kick.
Soon after the restart, a rare error by Santo gifted the Devils some much-needed field position and they capitalised from the scrum to send Turner over for a four pointer.
Halfback Todd Murphy nailed the sideline conversion to give the home side a 6-4 lead heading into the break.
The second half told a completely different story, with Norths showing why they entered the match undefeated.
Early tries to Shaun Carney and eventual XXXX man of the match Murphy gave Norths a 14-point lead before Devils captain Brendon Gibb delivered for his winger Rogan Dean to extend the lead once more after 55 minutes.
Carney pounced on a fortuitous deflection to score under the posts for his second try of the match with Mackay’s only second-half response from Doug Hewitt just before full time.
After having a bye at the weekend, Northern Pride will face Norths in a top-of-the-table clash in Innisfail on Saturday, while the Cutters host Tweed Heads.
NORTHS DEVILS 30 (Shaun Carney 2, Rogan Dean, Kainga Turner, Todd Murphy tries; Todd Murphy 5 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 10 (Josh Benjamin, Doug Hewitt tries; Doug Hewitt goal) at Bishop Park.