The PNG Hunters won their first competition game in Cairns against the Northern Pride, but only just. They were made to work very hard by the Northern Pride who led early and held on until the 72nd minute when the Hunters scored their third try of the night.
And those tries were early from the Pride as by the 7th minute the home side were 12-0 up thanks to Connor Jones and Sheldon Powe-Hobbs. The Hunters looked shell-shocked, and it was the worst possible start after last weekend’s shock loss at home to last place Tweed Heads.
The Hunters eventually hit back, with some fortune as a bomb directed at the Pride went unclaimed and a fortunate bounce was pounced on by Hunters hooker Wartovo Puara. With the conversion missed by the usually reliable Ase Boas the score was 12-4 at half time to the Pride, who almost extended that with a length of the field intercept which luckily for the Hunters didn’t end in points.
PNG came out with a little more purpose and fire in the second half, a little all in scuffle a few minutes after the break proving both sides were up it. Bland Abavu finished off a movement down the left in the 60th minute which saw the Hunter get within 4 points. Despite closing up the gap, the Hunters were still being placed under strong pressure from the home side, and some desperate defence kept them in the game.
Eventually they hit the front after a powerful run from Israel Eliab ended in a try in the 72nd minute, and was gladly converted by Ase Boas as the Hunters waited until late to hit the front for the first time.
But the game wasn’t done there. Ase Boas slotted a 76th minute penalty after being coathangered without the ball chasing an errant bounce in the Pride half. From that strategically placed kick off the Hunters knocked the ball on giving the Pride perfect position and a full set of six 30m out centre of the field.
The Hunters resisted that, but there was still some action to come as a another knock on from the Hunters after the siren had sounded led to confusion from officials whether the game was over or if a scrum needed to pack. Thankfully for the Hunters the whistle was blown and two hard earned points were in the bank. It keeps them on top of the Intrust Super Cup for now. The Pride are in danger of ending dead last at the end of this round.
PNG HUNTERS 18
Tries: Wartovo Puara (25m), Bland Abavu (60m), Israel Eliab (72m)
Goals: Ase Boas 2/3 Conv, 1 Pen
NORTHERN PRIDE 14
Tries: Connor Jones (2m), Sheldon Powe-Hobbs (6m)
Goals: Jordan Biondi-Odo 2/2 Conv, 1 Pen
A big game for these two clubs which kicks of Round 16. The Northern Pride, who are fresh from a bye have not won since Round 10 and their four wins for the season is the equal lowest in the competition and as a result are in the bottom three.
The PNG Hunters have had many more wins, however the interest will be if they can bounce back from the shock loss to the last placed Tweed Heads in Port Moresby last weekend. The remain on top of the competition ladder for now.
Interesting fact – the PNG Hunters are yet to win in Cairns having lost in 2014 and 2016, and there was no game in Cairns in 2015.
2017 Result – PNG Hunters 26 Northern Pride 10
1. Bradley Stephen 2. Gideon Gela-Mosby 3. Javid Bowen 4. Justin Castellaro 5. Marcus Jensen 6. Jordan Biondi-Odo 7. Jared Allen 8. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 9. Connor Jones 10. William Bugden 11. Nathan Wales 12. Graham Clark 13. Patrick Mago 14. Ryan Ghietti (c) 15. Troy Kapea 16. Tom Hancock 17. Darryn Schonig 18. Colin Wilkie 19. Keelan White
Coach: Ty Williams
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Adex Wera 5. Wawa Paul 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Halfback Watson Boas 8. Muka Peter Kalu 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Nixon Putt 12. Rahdly Brawa 13. Stanton Albert 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Willie Minoga 16. Lawrence Tu’u 17. Brandy Peter 18. Karo Kauna Jr. 19. Butler Morris
Coach: Michael Marum
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