Devils rampage puts a halt to Mustangs
RUGBY LEAGUE: A spirited second-half fightback wasn't enough to propel the Western Mustangs to victory against the Norths Devils on Saturday in the Hastings Deering Colts competition.
Despite getting the better of their opponents in the second stanza, the side suffered its second loss in the opening four rounds going down 42-18.
A familiar face stood opposite the Mustangs, with Valleys junior and Queensland U20s representative Gerome Burns starring in the five-eighth position for Devils.
The Mustangs found themselves on the back foot heading into the sheds, as the Devils racked up a 32-0 lead at the break, thanks to a Eddie Blacker hat-trick.
Coach Eugene Seddon said a nightmare first half provided the downfall for his side.
"The penalties against us and errors killed us," he said.
"The penalties were 8-3 to them in first half, and we had seven errors to compound that. They were all late in tackle count and we had Blake Cullen sent to the sin bin.
"It was a nightmare first half."
Despite the tumultuous opening 35 minutes, the Toowoomba side came out with a fresh attitude for the second stanza, as Damian McIntosh got the visitors on the board within three minutes of play.
Tuia Eliu and Michael Naseri also crossed the line, as the Mustangs showed fight to take out the second half 18-10.
Despite the defeat, the Mustangs can take some solace in the fact their two defeats have come up against two of the strongest teams in the competition (Norths and Victoria), who are both unbeaten after four rounds.
"There's a lot of confidence to take away from it. We know we can match it with them," he said.
"We will play them again. We were missing six players, four that are starters. There's no doubt we can beat them."
In the Mal Meninga Cup, the Devils were able to complete the sweep against the Mustangs, running out 40-16 winners.
The visitors got the best possible start as fullback Beni Neliman crossed inside six minutes against the ladder-leading Devils.
It was all one way traffic for the rest of the first half however, as four unanswered tries gave Norths a commanding 22-4 half-time advantage.
Logan Finn helped to stretch the lead out to 24 after scoring in the 12th minute of the second half, before the Mustangs knuckled down.
Tries to Leslie Hartvigsen and Jake Simpkin for the Mustangs didn't let the Devils lead get out of hand.
Both sides get the chance for redemption on Sunday, when they host the travelling Sunshine Coast Falcons at Gold Park.
The U20s have the opportunity to push back into the top eight with a win, while the U18s can pick up their first win of the season.