Experienced NRL rake Danny Levi was the Lang Park legend for the Norths Devils as they downed defending premiers Burleigh Bears 34-16, progressing to next week’s Intrust Super Cup decider against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls.
Match: Devils v Bears
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The former New Zealand representative leant on his big game experience to lead from the front in the clash at Suncorp Stadium, scoring a try and assisting in another to be the lynchpin for the minor premiers in their middle third.
Levi was one of several first grade stars who applied their trade in fashion for the Devils, with Tyrone Roberts, Leivaha Pulu and Nene MacDonald also putting their names in lights in the complete performance for Rohan Smith’s men.
"[I'm really proud of] the way we stayed together. It was hot and hard and playing against the experienced defending premiers; [Burleigh] are a quality team and well coached and I was just impressed at how the boys played together through the hard parts and did enough," the Norths Devils coach said.
"[Looking ahead to next week], we’ll focus on recovery first and then just get our heads around the next opportunity.
"Obviously, they’re a great team and strong right across the field and there’s a real camaraderie around what they’re doing there so we’ll have to be good next week."
Scroll down below to see the live blog of the game as it happened.
Second half summary
Rugby league can be a rollercoaster. Just as Sami Sauiluma's much-needed try was overturned by the Bunker, in the next set, Shallin Fuller shot out of the line, intercepted a loose Levi pass and ran away to score Burleigh's first points under the sticks.
Shallin Fuller try - 44th minute
But as quick as Burleigh's hopes lifted, they were quickly brought back down to Earth with Ben Nakubuwai crashing over to make it 26-6. There was still 18 minutes left, so there was still plenty of time to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Ben Nakubuwai - 61st minute
A second Roberts penalty goal in the 68th minute extended the Devils' lead to 22.
With nine minutes to play, Sauiluma added a consolation four-pointer for the Bears.
Sami Sauiluma try - 71st minute
To sprinkle the cherries on top, Matt Milson crossed to ensure Norths head up to Redcliffe next Sunday. It will be his fourth consecutive grand final after starring for Wynnum Manly's three-peat in the Brisbane's Premier A Grade competition between 2018-20.
Kurtis Rowe scored right on full-time, but it was too little, too late as the Bears departed this year's season; one short of defending their title they won back in 2019.
Kurtis Rowe try - 80th minute
First half summary
The action got underway at Suncorp Stadium, with both teams playing an up-tempo game to start the match.
First points were on the board when Tyrone Roberts kicked a penalty goal to see Norths Devils up 2-0.
The Bears thought they had the first try when Dylan Kelly went over, but the pass before was deemed forward.
Jonus Pearson forward pass - 13th minute
It was bad news for the Devils early on. Brendan Piakura failing his HIA and not take part in the remainder of the game. The young Bronco had been a strong performer for the minor premiers this season when he went off just over five minutes into the match.
The first try also came the way of the Devils with Michael Sio getting his arm free to plant the ball down to extend his side's lead.
Michael Sio try - 29th minute
The Devils then went back-to-back with a break through the middle following some fancy footwork from Bernard Gregorius, setting up Danny Levi to streak away.
Danny Levi try - 31st minute
Nearing the break, Rohan Smith's men made it even more tougher for the defending premiers with Leivaha Pulu crashing over in the 37th minute.
Leivaha Pulu try - 37th minute
The Devils went into the sheds up 20-0.
The minor premiers and the defending champions went head-to-head in preliminary final 1 in what was anticipated to be a classic match.
In the head-to-head stakes, the Bears have 26 wins while Norths have 22. In finals, Burleigh maintain their advantage and have three wins, while the Devils have one finals win against their opposition.
The two teams were fighting it out to see who will join Wynnum Manly Seagulls in next Sunday's decider.