HUNTERS WIN PART 1 OF THE BATTLE WITH THE FALCONS
In a strange twist of fate, the final game of the season between the PNG Hunters and the Sunshine Coast Falcons in Port Moresby will be replayed next weekend in the first week of the finals as the Hunters win meant that they remained fourth and the Falcons fifth.
It will be a tough task for the Sunshine Coast in the first knockout week of the finals too, as the Hunters finished yet another season without losing at home. The second consecutive unbeaten season at home.
The match was all one way traffic for the home side, with the solitary points for the Sunshine Coast coming in the 79th minute after the Hunters had led 34-0 courtesy of six tries.
Two of the returning players Bland Abavu and Justin Olam scored three of those six tries, underlining their importance to the PNG side for the upcoming finals series.
Neither were the first to score, that honour went to prop Enock Maki who crossed in the 10 minute. Justin Olam scored the first of his two for the afternoon in the 21st minute for the last score of the first half.
Four more tries followed in the second half, the first courtesy of starting hooker Gahuna Silas, the next from the regular hooker playing halfback Wartovo Puara. By the 58th minute the Hunters had a 24-0 lead and looked good for the win. Two tries in three minutes from the 71st minute rounded out the Hunters scoring and comprehensive victory, despite the late consolation try to the Falcons.
A home final at their new for 2016 home will be a tremendous experience for all involved, and here’s hoping we can get a live stream of the match via the QRL. A just reward for a good season too, unlike last year’s lack of reward for finishing second. The Hunters have the upper hand given their home record and win on Sunday over the Falcons.
PNG HUNTERS 34
Tries: Maki (10m), Olam (21m), Silas (47m), Puara (58m), Abavu (71m), Olam (74m). Goals: 5/6 Conversions.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 4
Tries: Tumusa (79m).
Sunday’s final game of the regular season in Port Moresby features two teams that will definitely play finals football next weekend. In a twist of fate, if the Falcons remain in fifth, this game will be repeated in the first week of the finals. An event that seems to be common in the Intrust Super Cup after two years of the same thing happening between Wynnum and Easts.
The Hunters will finish the regular season in fourth, as they have a three point gap either side of them. So no matter the result, fourth place will mean a home final in week one (TBC). A home final for the Hunters is a terrifying prospect for any side wishing to go past week one of the finals, as the Hunters are unbeaten at home in Port Moresby this season, and undefeated in PNG since mid 2014.
It’s the Hunters away record that has cost them from going any higher up the ladder, and one of eight losses on the road this season was against the Sunshine Coast Falcons. The Falcons have been competitive against the PNG side with an overall record of 2-3, the losses have all been by less than six points, and the victories have both been very impressive. Including this year’s 28-20 win, where the Hunters were thoroughly outplayed in the first half.
So, despite the Hunters fearsome home record, the Falcons are a real chance of being the first side in over two years to win in PNG. The only problem is that they would then have to do it again next week.
PNG Hunters welcome back Melbourns Storm bound centre Justin Olam and lanky fullback Bland Abavu, and former fullback Stargroth Amean remains in the side but shifts to the wing. The Falcons are without two of their more exciting backs in Curtis Scott and Eddie Tautali, and that missing strike power may just cost them the chance of a win.
PLAYER TO WATCH – Wartovo Puara (PNG Hunters) – has been shuffled around the team of late, and the Hunters need him to fire at halfback. Normally a quality he’ll be starting in the halves but will probably shift to dummy half when Watson Boas comes from the bench. Given his work so far in 2016, it would surprising if an NRL or Super League club doesn’t make an enquiry for 2017.
Prediction: PNG by 2
PNG Hunters v Sunshine Coast Falcons @ National Football Stadium
Kick Off: Sunday 3:05pm
This Season: Sunshine Coast 28 PNG 20
Last Season: PNG 24 Sunshine Coast 20 / Sunshine Coast 36 PNG 10
1. Bland Abavu 2. Butler Morris 3. Noel Zeming (c) 4. Justin Olam 5. Stargroth Amean 6. Ase Boas 7. Wartovo Puara 8. Enock Maki 9. Gahuna Silas 10. Esau Siune 11. Timothy Lomai 12. Nickson Borana 13. Brandy Peter 14. Warren Glare 15. Adam Korave (c) 16. Henry Wan 17. Edward Goma 18. Benjamin Hetra 19. Watson Boas
Coach: Michael Marum
Sunshine Coast Falcons
1. Samuel Wright 2. Tony Tumusa 3. Callum Klein 4. Paul Ivan 5. Rowan Klein 6. Alex Bishop 7. Ryley Jacks 18. Ryan Hansen 9. Jake Turpin 10. Martin Cordwell 11. Troy Giess (c) 12. Charlie Galo 13. Thomas Murphy 14. Brett Doherty 15. Jacob Samoa 16. Ben Nakubuwai 17. Tui Kamikamica 19. Tom Geraghty
Coach: Craig Ingebrigtsen
|National Football Stadium|
|Lloyd Robertson Oval, Port Morseby|