Pride trounce Tigers in Intrust Super Cup grand final
Northern Pride have dominated the Easts Tigers 36-4 to take out the 2014 Intrust Super Cup grand final in front of a healthy crowd of 7,135 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Cairns-based club unleashed a cyclonic style of football over the Tigers from the opening whistle which enabled the minor premiers to jump out to an 18-0 lead at half-time.
Two quick tries after the break propelled the Pride out to a 30-0 lead with 30 minutes remaining and from that point they rarely looked troubled as the raced away with a 32-point victory, the biggest winning margin in Queensland Cup history.
Despite a spiteful ending to the match that saw both sides finish with 11 players, the Pride rounded off their victory with Javid Bowen's second try in the 77th minute.
The Pride now will now play Penrith in the National Championship final on NRL grand final day after the Panthers defeated Newcastle Knights in the VB NSW Cup grand final.
After claiming consecutive minor premierships, the Pride were able to go one better and erase the pain from last season's shock exit in the preliminary final to claim their first Grand Final since 2010.
The Pride were aided by an extra week off due to their Major Semi-Final win over the Tigers, with the extended break proving to be the key factor in the Northerners fast start according to Pride coach Jason Demetriou.
"The time off has made a big difference. We've been able to really focus and come into this game really fresh with no injuries and that played a big difference in the end," Demetriou said.
"We played straight up the middle. A lot of teams try and go around Easts but we wanted to go straight through them and make our big forwards work.
"I thought maybe [with] the week off we might start a bit slow, but we put a lot of emphasis on completing our sets and we did that. We completed 18 out of 21 [sets] in the first half which was outstanding and you could see Easts physically starting to struggle [because] they've had some tough games and that caught up with them.
"We said at the first day of pre-season anything less than winning [the grand final] was an under achievement for this group of players."
The Manly-bound Leary was as equally ecstatic as his coach, crediting the Pride's close-knit team environment as another factor in their dominating performance.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. We've got a great bunch of blokes, had a massive season and to come away with the win is outstanding," Leary said.
"Both teams are very passionate. Easts threw a lot at us and I didn’t think the scoreboard reflected the game. We just stuck to our structures and we knew we'd come away with the win if did our job."
Buoyed by their half-time lead, the Pride extended their advantage four minutes into the second half in fortuitous circumstances.
Deep on the attack five-eighth Shaun Nona put boot to ball on the last but had his kick rebound off Tigers halfback Cody Walker and back into his arms, with the Pride pivot then sending a looping pass to an unmarked Brett Anderson who crossed in the corner.
Nona made no mistake with his fourth conversion of the afternoon to take the Pride out to a 24-0 lead.
The Tigers had a fleeting opportunity to claw their way back into the match but couldn’t turn their brief moment of pressure into points.
Easts would pay for their profligacy only minutes later when the Pride ran the ball on the last through Leary with the back-rower finding Ryan Ghietti on his inside who did the rest, taking the Pride out to a 30-point lead with 29 minutes remaining.
With the result almost beyond doubt errors started to creep into the game during the second half for both sides as the intensity witnessed in the first half started to wear off.
The Tigers avoided being kept scoreless 15 minutes from fulltime when winger Jarrod McInally crossed to take the score to 30-4.
Three minutes later the Tigers were disallowed a try to Kenny Bromwich however that would be the last action Bromwich would see as he and Ricky Thorby watched the remainder of the match from the sideline after both players were sent to the sin-bin for fighting.
Proceedings continued to boil over in the dying minutes as the Pride finished the match with 11 men after Ethan Lowe was binned for back chat.
The heated words continued after another scuffle four minutes from fulltime which resulted in Tigers skipper Steven Thorpe being sent off.
After enjoying the majority of possession during the early exchanges the Pride opened the scoring in the 15th minute through Kyle Feldt, who managed to cross the line out wide after receiving a pass from backrower Tyrone McCarthy.
The Pride continued to pile on the pressure and converted their early ascendency into further points with a quick-fire backline shift to the left enabled winger Bowen to cross in the 21st minute.
Shaun Nona casually slotted his second conversion of the afternoon allowing the Pride to double their lead at 12-0.
Back-to-back sets to the Pride five minutes before the break enabled the minor premiers to find the line again to further stamp their authority on the game with Feldt involved again.
Running back on an angle towards the try-line, Feldt's charge was halted just shy of the stripe but he managed to dish an offload to halfback Sam Obst who found Davin Crampton running full steam towards the posts with little left to do other than plant the ball down for Pride's third try.
Nona added the extras for the Pride to take the score to 18-0 in the 35th minute with the scoreboard remaining unchanged headed into the break.
Northern Pride 36 (Javid Bowen 2, Kyle Feldt, Davin Crampton, Brett Anderson, Ryan Ghietti tries; Shaun Nona 6 goals) def. Easts Tigers 4 (Jarrod McInally try) at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Half time: Pride 18-0. Crowd: 7,135. Duncan Hall Medal: Shaun Nona.