Qld Residents bursting with Pride
The Northern Pride have been rewarded for their stranglehold on the Intrust Super Cup minor premiership with the strongest representation of players in the Queensland Residents team named to play the curtain-raiser before Origin III at Suncorp Stadium on July 9.
Queensland Residents will play the NSW Cup Rep team prior to the main fixture with a host of NRL talent to feature in both sides.
With two games for the Cowboys over the past two seasons Blake Leary is the only one of the five Pride players selected with NRL experience and he will be joined by team-mates Javid Bowen, Davin Crampton, Shaun Nona and Ben Spine as well as Pride coach Jason Demetriou.
Players with NRL experience include Aaron Whitchurch (Redcliffe), Kalifa Faifai Loa (Cowboys and Titans), Kurt Baptiste (Broncos and Raiders) and Tim Glasby (Storm) while others such as Sam Hoare and Felise Kaufusi are on the verge of NRL call-ups.
With the team being announced at half-time of the Round 17 match of the round between the Pride and PNG Hunters, Pride players had to hold off a fast-finishing Hunters team before having double reason to celebrate.
Unstoppable PNG winger Garry Lo snared four tries for the visitors but it wasn't enough as the Pride stretched their 18-6 half-time lead to run out 36-18 winners and stay five clear of second-placed Tweed Heads on the competition table with a game in hand.
Tweed extended their unbeaten run to 10 games with a 30-22 win over Redcliffe, the CQ Capras recorded just their third win of the year with a 19-18 upset of Burleigh, Ipswich trailed 2-0 at half-time before overcoming a determined Sunshine Coast 10-2, Mackay were convincing 28-4 winners at home over Norths and Benaiah Bowie got a hat-trick in Wynnum's 38-28 win over Souths Logan.
The contest between the Pride and Hunters in Cairns looked all but over by half-time as the Pride ran in four tries and had 62 per cent of possession.
When Pride fullback Hezron Murgha crossed after the break to take the score to 24-6 the floodgates threaten to open for the Hunters but a quick-fire hat trick to popular winger Lo set up an exciting finish.
In the opening exchanges, Pride hit the front in the fifth minute after PNG conceded two quick penalties. The end resulted saw Kyle Feldt cross out wide to hand the hosts a 4-0 lead.
The home side extended their advantage 10 minutes later when Pride skipper Jason Roos sent Tyrone McCarthy through a gaping hole in the Hunters' defensive line to take the score out to 10-0 after Shaun Nona's conversion.
Nona was involved again in the next set when he sent a spiralling bomb in Adex Wera's direction with the PNG fullback spilling the ball to hand Pride an attacking scrum 10 metres out from the line.
From the scrum feed, the ball found Javid Bowen on the blind side and the Northern Pride centre made light work of opposite number Israel Eliab to easily stroll over the line and make it 14-0.
Trailing 18-6, PNG had a less than ideal start to the second stanza after knocking the ball on from kick-off but it wasn't until nine minutes into the half before the Pride crossed again, Davin Crampton and Kyle Feldt combining to send Hezron Murgha over the line. Nona converted to stretch the score line out to 24-6.
Two minutes later Ben Spina sent Nona through the middle and the Pride five-eighth raced away to score a converted try, taking the score to 30-6 in the 54th minute.
PNG added some credibility to scoreboard after Garry Lo crossed for his second try to take the score to 30-10. From the kick-off, Israel Eliab found space through the centre causing the Pride to go on the back foot. This played into the Hunters' hands as the ball spun out to Lo and the stocky winger powered his way over the line for his hat-trick.
In a case of déjà vu, the Hunters steamrolled their way through the Pride from the kick-off and again decided to run the ball on the last towards the direction of Lo's wing. Once the ball ended up in the hands of the PNG winger, he muscled his way over the line for his fourth try, the second time this season he has scored four in a game.
All of a sudden, the scoreboard had changed from 30-6 to 30-18 within 15 minutes and the Hunters were coming home with a wet sail.
The Pride composed themselves and soon sealed the match when a cleaver run by Roos from dummy-half was finished off by man of the match Leary who strolled in under the posts to take the score out to 36-18 with less than two minutes remaining.
Northern Pride 36 (Blake Leary 2, Kyle Feldt, Tyrone McCarthy, Javid Bowen, Hezron Murgha, Shaun Nona tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) def. PNG Hunters 18 (Garry Lo 4 tries; Noel Zemming 1 goal) at Barlow Park, Cairns. Half-time: Northern Pride 18-6. XXXX Man of the Match: Blake Leary.
Queensland Residents: 1 Henare Wells (Burleigh Bears), 2 Javid Bowen (Northern Pride), 3 Aaron Whitchurch (Redcliffe Dolphins), 4 Davin Crampton (Northern Pride), 5 Kalifa Faifai Loa (Tweed Heads Seagulls), 6 Shaun Nona (Northern Pride), 7 Todd Murphy (Norths Devils), 8 Sam Hoare (Mackay Cutters), 9 Kurt Baptiste (Souths Logan Magpies), 10 Tim Natusch (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), 11 Keiron Lander (Ipswich Jets), 12 Tim Glasby (Easts Tigers), 13 Ben Spina (Northern Pride), 14 Felise Kaufusi (Easts Tigers), 15 Blake Leary (Northern Pride), 16 Rod Griffin (Ipswich Jets), 17 Tom Kingston (Tweed Heads Seagulls), 18 Ben Cronin (Wynnum Manly Seagulls). Coach: Jason Demetriou (Northern Pride).