REVIEW – FOUR POINTERS FROM THE MATCH
The Ipswich Jets-PNG Hunters game is always one to look forward to, and whilst this year’s edition was a great watch in the beautiful almost-winter sun from the great vantage point of the North Ipswich Reserve Can Bar. It could have been an even better spectacle if the home side had held onto the ball better.
IPSWICH ERRORS COSTLY
The Jets could have so much closer to the Hunters on Saturday afternoon, but they were made to pay for the errors that were a constant nuisance for the home side.
Ipswich were the dominant side of the first five minutes, the Hunters had next to no ball, and certainly no territory, but a knock on in the fourth minute was punished when PNG went down the other end to score through the big man Wellington Albert as he dragged a few defenders 5 metres and more acorss the line.
But Ipswich errors leading to Hunters tries was a theme for a large chunk of the afternoon, and if the Hunters were scoring them, there were two occasions in the second half where certain tries were bombed. Given that Ipswich got within 8 points at that time, it sure could have made the difference.
WHY DOESN’T AN NRL SIDE COPY THE JETS KICK OFFS?
On their way to a 2015 Intrust Super Cup premiership, the ad lib short kick offs were well received by fans and neutrals alike, and given the success of Ipswich that year under the continuing stewardship of the Walker Brothers it is puzzling why anyone doesn’t use the tactic.
Some dismiss it as a high risk low percentage play, but after watching it live in action on Saturday I beg to differ.
Ipswich had to kick off 8 times in their match against the Hunters, and from those restarts the home side got the ball back 6 times!
One instance of those 6 saw the PNG Hunter player collect the ball but get bundled into touch given the ferocity of the chase.
Six time out of eight. 75% success rate. Unbelievable. Put it into context against the standard NRL kick off which goes as far down the field as possible just next to either post to be trucked up by the opposition’s next available prop, in which you have to rely on a knock on to get the ball back. Teams would be lucky to get the ball back 1% of the time if waiting for an opponent’s error from a kick off. So even if the Jets only get the ball back half the time, it is still 49% better than the current stats.
Yes the punishment with a failed attempt is that you are starting your defensive set 50 metres closer than clubs would normally like, but the fact that you can receive the ball back so many times by the short kick off means it should be now worth the risk.
PNG HUNTERS LOOKING READY FOR FINALS
Yes the PNG Hunters were helped by constant Ipswich errors on Saturday, but the way they controlled the game after opening the scoring was impressive, and showed the growing maturity of Michael Marum’s side.
Whilst some, including myself, bemoan the lack of as lib play from the Hunters these days, you can’t help but be impressed with how much more composed and solid they look. A case in point was their 12-10 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins in Port Moresby a few rounds ago, but throughout the 2017 they have looked harder to beat than ever before.
There is still some room for their natural playing style, but that has been blunted with a more structured set up, which has led to a more solid PNG Hunters. That is an important factor though, as the Hunters have made the finals twice in their three seasons in the Intrust Super Cup but have lost all three finals games they have been in and needed to be more solid.
ASE BOAS IS NRL READY
The Hunters five eighth was again one of the Hunters best against Ipswich, and he continued his great form and combination with his brother Watson from so far in 2017.
He was involved all through the match in attack, had a hand in several tries, and scored one himself in a successful day out. His goal kicking is also a little underrated, he missed just once on the weekend, and a successful rate of 85% on the day is not far away from his season average.
Ase Boas was one of the Kumuls best in their test match win over the Cook Islands, and although the Cook Islands isn’t the NRL, it showed that he is capable of a step up to another level. It may take him leading the PNG side to an Intrust Super Cup premiership for the NRL to take notice.
PNG HUNTERS 32
Tries: Wellington Albert (6m), Adex Wera (22m), Israel Eliab (33m), Ase Boas (73m), Bland Abavu (77m)
Goals: Ase Boas 4/5 Conv 2/2 Pens
IPSWICH JETS 12
Tries: Dane Phillips (62m), Mitch Carpenter (66m)
Goals: Wes Conlon 2/2 Conv
The match of the weekend awaits first up for the Intrust Super Cup Round 11, and it is a match which for me is the first one circled when the draw comes, as no one entertains like the Ipswich Jets and the PNG Hunters.
The two sides have had some cracking games at North Ipswich Reserve since the Hunters arrived in the Intrust Super Cup in 2014, and I’ve attended all of them. The best was the 2015 match which featured absolutely everything you could hope for in rugby league and more.
The 2017 will hopefully be another classic, although one hopes the rain stays away enough so not to blunt both side’s enterprising play.
LAST TIME OUT
The Jets are on a decent run of results now with four wins in a row following five defeats. It has seen them move from the bottom three to be just two points outside the top 6. They are also the road trip kings with just the one loss away from Ipswich. All of that combines for their last game in which the Jets beat the Capras in Rockhampton 30-16.
PNG Hunters are coming off a bye, a reward for the Hunters supplying more than half of the Kumuls players for the international weekend two weeks ago, but before then their last game was on April 29 as they easily beat the Northern Pride in Port Moresby 26-10. That’s after thrashing Burleigh on Anzac Day and holding Redcliffe off in Port Moresby. That form sees them share the competition lead with Redcliffe.
With plenty of flair and speed on offer, you would think the key battle would be in the backs, but the match up of the hookers is another important one. It features two players at either end of their careers, Luke Capewell who is very experienced in the Intrust Super Cup and played many NRL games for the Broncos and Rabbitohs amongst others. At the other end of the scale is the PNG Hunters hooker Wartovo Puara. The PNG international has been one of the Hunters best for a few seasons now, and is back up to speed after missing the first part of the season through injury.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Michael Purcell, the lively speedster for the Jets is the embodiment of the Walker Brothers policy, always willing to try something and back himself. He has made up for the loss of Marmin Barba on the left wing. He hasn’t scored as many tries this season, but perhaps coming across a different side like the Hunters.
It would have Willie Minoga had he not have been suspended, missing on this game and the Test match. That’s a tough two game penalty.
Hard one to pick, as a tip for Ipswich relies on their game plan coming together which is easily said than done. Also depends on how wet it is as the Hunters are also capable of a few errors. Can guarantee entertainment, can’t guarantee a Hunters win by 4.
1. Wes Conlon 2. Michael Purcell 3. Ben White 4. Nemani Valekapa 5. Richard Pandia 6. Chris Ash 7. Dane Phillips (c) 8. Mitch Carpenter 9. Luke Capewell 10. Nat Neale 22. Tyson Lofipo 12. Seb Pandia 13. Rory Humphreys 11. Sam Martin 15. Lachlan Roe 16. Huskie Teatau 21. Jesse Roberts
Coach: Ben Walker and Shane Walker
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Adex Wera 5. Paul Wawa 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Nixon Putt 12. Row David Loko 13. Stanton Albert 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Rahdly Brawa 16. Enock Maki 17. Moses Meninga 18. Ishamel Baikawa 19. Muka Peter Kalu 20. Butler Morris
Coach: Michael Marum
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