The PNG Hunters remain on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder after another hard fought win in Port Moresby and another game in which the home side were behind.
Despite topping the table, the Hunters have made hard work of a run of games against opposition in the lower half, but the fact that they keep winning them when not at their peak is a good sign for the upcoming finals for which they are going to play a big part in. Or perhaps the wins against lower placed opposition is covering a drop of form. We’ll find out before the season finishes with games against Redcliffe and Townsville to come.
They started off well enough by opening the scoring in the 8th minute, but the 2016 Premiers hit back with tries to Pat Politoni and Matt White, and the Hunters were behind again at home 12-4. A try to Ase Boas before the break reduced the half time deficit to two.
Fears of another home loss were eased not long after when the lanky Bland Abavu crossed to give the Hunters the lead again, and they scored the only other points in the half with ten minutes to go to wrap up another two competition points.
They remain on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder, for the Bears their title defence appears over.
PNG HUNTERS 20
Tries: Wawa Paul (8m), Ase Boas (35m), Bland Abavu (47m), Watson Boas (70m)
Goals: Ase Boas 2/4 Conv
BURLEIGH BEARS 12
Tries: Pat Politoni (14m), Matt White (23m)
Goals: Jamal Fogarty 2/2 Conv
Round 18 concludes in Port Moresby as the table topping PNG Hunters meet last year’s premiers Burleigh Bears.
The Hunters got home against Central last weekend after a late Stargroth Amean hat trick in the last 10 minutes blew out a scoreline that was tight for most of the game, and the Capras actually led in the second half.
Despite leading the competition the Hunters have had to tough it out in recent weeks, with a win over the lowly Northern Pride only being secured after the Hunters took the lead for the first time in the 72nd minute. Before that they were beaten by Tweed Heads at home and just got past Souths Logan 12-8.
The Hunters home form, which was previously impenetrable, has looked less so in 2017 against some of the lower sides. The trade off has been a vast improvement in away results, so as long as they keep winning it’s all good. But the full stadiums of 15,000+ and guaranteed home wins have gone, and it seems just that little bit harder at the National Football Stadium at the moment.
The form of Stargroth Amean should excite Hunters fans heading into this weekend, as should the return to form of Israel Eliab who has scored two good tries in consecutive weeks. Willie Minoga’s opening try against the Capras showed all the powerful running for which he has become one of the competition’s favourite players.
Burleigh’s two game winning streak was ended by Redcliffe last weekend, and a win in Port Moresby looks unlikely, but there was much to like about their 44-0 demolition two rounds ago in the TV game that should mean the Bears are not completely without hope. Tweed Heads have taken two points in Port Moresby with worse recent form.
The Bears have named a very strong side, featuring the recently returned Jamal Fogarty in the halves, and can even afford to name PNG International prop Luke Page on the bench. With the injury crisis easing at the Titans, Burleigh will start to get better players coming back from the NRL.
Previous 2017 Result – Burleigh 6 PNG Hunters 42
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Willie Minoga 5. Wawa Paul 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. David Loko 12. Rahdly Brawa 13. Brandy Peter 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Stanton Albert 16. Nixon Putt 17. Butler Morris 18. Moses Meninga 19. Karo Kauna Jr 20. Adex Wera
Coach: Michael Marum
1. Henare Wells 2. Kurtis Rowe 3. Sami Sauiluma 4. Connor Broadhurst 19. Daniel Vidot 6. Jamal Fogarty 7. Harrison Siejka 14. Paterika Vaivai. 13. Sam Coster 10. Matt White 11. Jamie Dowling (c) 12. Dylan Kelly 15. Lorenzo Ma’afu 8. Luke Page 9. Christopher Law 16. Darren Griffiths 17. Hayden Schwass
Coach: Jim Lenihan
|National Football Stadium|
|Lloyd Robertson Oval, Port Morseby|