Devils breach tough fortress

Isis Devils player Mitchell Bartlett braces for impact as Hervey Bay Seagulls forward Tyson Woodman tackles him at Stafford Park.
Isis Devils player Mitchell Bartlett braces for impact as Hervey Bay Seagulls forward Tyson Woodman tackles him at Stafford Park. Hayden Johnson

DAVE Yarrow's young brigade has spent much of the 2014 season turning Stafford Park into a fortress.

On Saturday, the red-hot Isis Devils, looking in all sorts of trouble early in the Bundaberg Rugby League showdown, reverted to punishing, smashmouth football and stormed the walls to claim a worthy 32-18 victory.

Doubles to Dan Pasene and Mitchell Bartlett helped the Devils become the first team to beat the Seagulls at the Bideford St ground in more than a year.

After taking an early 8-0 lead when Billy Stefaniuk scorched down the left wing for his third double in the past three games, the Seagulls coughed up the lead with the Devils crossing four times in 25 minutes to take a 20-8 into half-time.

The Seagulls had to be the first to score after the break, and they were through centre Brock Eldridge in the 47th minute.

Yet, despite the Seagulls scoring early in the second half, the Devils were slowly emerging as the better side.

The evidence was in their body language. The Devils were pounding away. The Seagulls started to lose shape. Their attack looked lethargic.

Slowly, simple mistakes and a failure to put the Devils under pressure, as well as poor discipline were compounding on a team still struggling without some of their key strike players.

"I think we got outenthused," Seagulls prop Anthony Lindeberg told the Chronicle after the match.

"We talked about that before the game (staying focussed for the full 80 minutes), but it wasn't all there tonight."

In that, the Seagulls need to take a lesson from the Devils. They won through sheer hard work, rolling up the middle with their big forwards to give their little men the edge around the ruck.

"I wouldn't say they're an attacking side, but they're a grinding side," Lindeberg continued.

"They've got big fellas who come off the bench and can bust up the middle then they've got guys like Robbie O'Donnell who play off the back of that."

The game was sealed when Devils five-eighth Nathan Sullivan crossed the white line with seven minutes remaining, despite the Seagulls picking up a consolation try to fullback Chris Wicks.

Hervey Bay late inclusion Tyson Woodman played hurt, but was inspirational in making some strong runs, while five-eighth Alex Braun stood out with his kicking game.

The first-year Seagull continues to improve every week with his astute grubber kicks leading to two tries and his nifty right-foot step close to the line causing trouble for the defence.

Hervey Bay, which has dropped to fifth after Saturday's loss, has to regroup for the Maryborough Wallaroos next Saturday, and make sure they can consolidate their spot in the top-five.

The Wallaroos, meanwhile, needed to play just one half of football to record their second straight win of the season after Waves Tigers were unable to field a full side in the second half.

The Wallaroos were leading 58-0 at half-time of yesterday's match at Salter Oval when the injury-ravaged Tigers elected not to return to the field for the second 40 minutes.

Centre Roy Stretton bagged a hat-trick and Jason Booth helped himself to a double, while George Major starred at five-eighth.


Isis 32 (D Pasene 2, M Bartlett 2, L Bartlett, N Sullivan tries; R O'Donnell 4 goals) def Hervey Bay 18 (B Stefaniuk 2, B Eldridge, C Wicks tries; T Woodman goal)

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