The PNG Hunters continued their impressive recent form registering a sixth straight win against the Norths Devils on Sunday afternoon, and in the process retained the competition lead for another week.
They were made to work hard for it, as there was nothing in the first half after the returning Chris Sandow inspired the Devils with his involvement including the first try of the game with a pinpoint cross field kick in the 5th minute. Stargroth Amean continued his brilliant form, which included a best on field in the Pacific Test by scoring the opening try for the Hunters in the 21st minute. However it was probably his try saving tackle just before half time to stop what looked a certain Devils try that was more impressive and it allowed the Hunters to not fall behind going into the break.
Willie Minoga took advantage of some great ball movement and his return to the centres in the 21st minute to score and grab the lead for the Hunters, which was pegged back by Norths with Javarn first of two tries for the afternoon and a penalty goal.
But boy did the Hunters did kick on after the break scoring five tries to one to blow the home side away and prove they are not only worthy competition leaders. PNG’s first four tries of the second half came at regular intervals, and added a little salt with a consolation try two minutes from time. Norths to their credit never gave up, and although Javarn White’s second try in the 49th was their only points to show for their effort, some of the ball movement late in the game showed so a side that plays to the end. A healthy attitude if they can sneak into the top 6 for finals.
However, it was another tremendous win for the Hunters, and it is looking more likely with each passing week that this could be the year they break through, as their weak point last year – away from – has been fixed as they have lost just once on the road in 2017. That was to the second placed Sunshine Coast who they haven’t beaten away for three seasons. Expectations will have risen in PNG just that little bit.
A great clash awaits Bishop Park on Sunday afternoon, the PNG Hunters are in town and face a tough game against the Devils.
The Hunters are in great form, and the international break seems to have got them even more fired up with some great wins against Ipswich and Townsville. Norths have been close in a number of their games, and sit just one point out of the top 6 with Ipswich.
Last time out:
Norths jumped out to an early lead against the Sunshine Coast last weekend, so will be disappointed not to hold onto that against one of the competition’s best side in Sunshine Coast.
PNG Hunters could hardly have been more impressive after tearing through the Townsville Blackhawks 42-4. After Townsville peaked early with a second minute try, the Hunters laid on seven unanswered tries to take the win and the competition lead.
Who to watch out for:
Regular readers will not be surprised when Willie Minoga is offered up as the person to watch, but there’s a little more interest this week than usual.
Coach Michael Marum has named him in the centres like earlier in the year, and there must be a good reason for it, as the change has pushed out the in form Adex Wera to the wing. Although the Devil’s outside men will probably not be too thrilled to opposing the Freight Train.
How they will win:
Has to be in the forwards. If the Devils muscle up against the Hunters and force them into mistakes like the Sunshine Coast seem to be able to, then the Hunters potency is limited. Norths have big units in Francis Molo and Matiu Love-Henry. They’ll have to as the PNG backline is impressive and in form.
At a minimum they should simply repeat what they did in Port Moresby earlier in the season when they became the first side in over 2 years to beat the Hunters at home during the regular season with their 32-18 win.
As good as the Hunter’s form has been of late, the worry is the Devils’ form against them in the last few meetings. An upset is possible here.
Devils by 4
1. Javarn White 2. Michael Lucas 3. Delouise Hoeter 4. Luke Pollock 5. Dane Chang 6. Jack Miers 7. Todd Murphy 8. Francis Molo 9. Billy Brittain (c) 10. James Taylor 11. David Faamita 12. Matiu Love-Henry 13. Dalton Phillips 15. Stephen Coombe 16. Michael Molo 17. Josh Afoa 14. Danny Kerr
Coach: Mark Gliddon
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Willie Minoga 5. Adex Wera 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Nixon Putt 12. David Loko 13. Stanton Albert 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Brandy Peter 16. Enock Maki 17. Moses Meninga 18. Rahdly Brawa 19. Wawa Paul 20. Butler Morris
Coach: Michael Marum
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