Match Report by Shannon Meyer
The PNG Hunters have to settle for a fourth place finish to the 2016 regular season after going down 40-16 at Barlow Park to a Northern Pride who have found their winning ways a little too late to feature in this year’s finals.
The Hunters went into the game with key players out and the Northern Pride took full advantage, winning their last home game of the season.
The Hunters were first to score as they do on many an occasion through an unlikely source of prop Esau Siune but it was the last time they would be in front as the Northern Pride took over.
The Pride scored the next three tries with a burst of three tries in ten minutes to take a 16-6 lead at the 20 minutes mark, the first to Pride prop Sheldon Powe-Hobbs making it an unlikely double for the fans at Barlow Park. The Hunters hit back with a try to Timothy Lomai to get his side back within 6 points, but that was extended to 16 points as tries to Khan Ahwang and Jaren Allen crossed to make it 26-10 at the break.
Things didn’t improve after the break as the Pride stretched their lead out to 30 points by the time Linc Port scored in the 58th minutes and Justin Castellaro in the 70th, with an added penalty goal. The only piece of joy for the Hunters in the second forty minutes was when Butler Morris served up a consolation try in the 78th minute, but it was far too little too late.
For the Pride it was a good win against top opposition, after a good late run to the season which has seen them beat heavyweights Burleigh and the Hunters, and fall just two points shy of the Blackhawks in recent weeks.
The Hunters are a team to be feared in Port Moresby, but their away form has been their major letdown in 2016. All eight losses this season have come on the road, and they had only won once away from Port Moresby since Round 5. It has cost them the opportunity to go further up the table.
But at least finishing 4th should guarantee them a home final based on previous seasons format. A fair reward they were denied last year for finishing second. The draw for the finals isn’t out yet, so may have to stay tuned. If they miss out this year, one would have to question the fairness of the competition.
NORTHERN PRIDE 40 – Tries Powe-Hobbs (10m), Hancock (15m), Bowen (20m), Ahwang (32m), Allen (36m), Port (56m), Castellaro (70m). Goals: Ahwang 5/7 Conv, 1/1 Pen Goal
PNG HUNTERS 16 – Siune (7m), Lomai (27m), Morris (78m). Goals Zeming 2/3 Conv.
Preview by Matt Pritchard
The Hunters dropped to fourth on the ladder after a four point loss to Townsville Blackhawks at Jack Manski Stadium last weekend.
It was a costly defeat with suspensions to Justin Olam, Blan Abavu and Adex Wera. Olam and Abavu suspended for this week and Wera to be back for the first week of the finals. They also lost Thompson Teteh to a season ending injury.
Superstars Noel Zeming and Stargroth Amean will return for the Hunters this weekend. It’s unlikely the Hunters will finish higher than fourth spot with Burleigh taking on Easts and Townsville to pick up two points for the bye.
For the Pride it’s exactly that – playing for pride.
This game will be no walkover for the Hunters as the Pride look to win their final home game of the season.
They’ve had a fair good run over the last month in beating Burleigh (25-24), coming within two points of the Blackhawks (20-22) and thrashing the hapless Tweed Heads 30-4 at Piggabeen Sports Stadium.
Khan Ahwang is the go-to player, tied for third in the point scoring on 176 with Norths Devils Todd Murphy.
When these two teams met earlier this year it was the PNG Hunters too good for the Pride by 22-6. Expect a close match this time around.
The game live on TVWAN Digicel from 3:30pm this Sunday.
Northern Pride v PNG Hunters
Barlow Park on Sunday, August 21 – 3.35pm
1. Linc Port 2. Khan Ahwang 3. Justin Castellaro 4. Shaun Hudson 5. Luke George 6. Jordan Biondi-Odo 7. Jared Allen 8. Ben Spina 9. Ryan Ghietti (c) 10. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 11. Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi 12. Jack Svendsen 13. Tom Hancock 14. Colin Wilkie 15. David Murphy 16. Aidan Day 17. Benjamin Reuter
Coach: Joe O’Callaghan
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Butler Morris 3. Noel Zeming (c) 4. Edward Goma 5. Philimon Kimisive 6. Ase Boas 7. Watson Boas 8. Enock Maki 9. Warren Glare 10. Esau Siune 11. Timothy Lomai 12. Ishamel Baikawa 13. Brandy Peter 14. Gahuna Silas 15. Adam Korave (c) 16. Benjamin Hetra 17. Nickson Borana 18. Wartovo Puara 19. Atte Bina
Coach: Michael Marum
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