A late try and conversion earned the travelling Mackay Cutters a valuable point against the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby. In fact the Cutters scored twice in the last ten minutes to overturn a 10 point deficit that the Hunters had held onto for most of the second half to that point.
It was deadlocked at the break at 12-12 as the Hunters and Cutters went try for try, firstly to the in-form fullback Stargroth Amean, then Yamba Bowie scored the first of his first half double a few minutes later. The ever improving Israel Eliab got another try to extend the Hunters lead, but by the break they were pegged back after Yamba Bowie’s second try and a penalty goal.
PNG came out with intent after the break, as the lanky Bland Abavu scored a quick double, and the Hunters led 22-12, a lead they held until the previously mentioned Mackay Cutters fight back in the last ten minutes.
The result sees the Hunters keep the competition lead, and the point earned edges them further towards a minor premiership as their nearest rivals Sunshine Coast were beaten by Burleigh in St George. It’s still all good for the Hunters, but there appears to be a chink in their armour, surprisingly in 2017 it seems to be at home. And they have a tough run ahead with a trip to Redcliffe next weekend and Ipswich at home and Townsville away after that. If they still have a four point gap by then they deserve the minor premiership.
Mackay are still a mathematic chance of finals but need either Townsville or the Magpies to lose all the remaining games, and overturn a 100 plus points difference.
PNG HUNTERS 22
Tries: Stargroth Amean (18m), Israel Eliab (27m), Bland Abavu (41m), Bland Abavu (48m)
Goals: Ase Boas 3/4 Conv
MACKAY CUTTERS 22
Tries: Yamba Bowie (22m), Yamba Bowie (33m), Johnny Faletagoa’i (70m), Shane Wright (77m)
Goals: Jack Joass 2/4 Conv, 1 Pen
PNG Hunters v Mackay Cutters
@ National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Willie Minoga 5. Wawa Paul 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Stanton Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. David Loko 12. Rahdly Brawa 13. Nixon Putt 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Adex Wera 16. Brandy Peter 17. Moses Meninga 18. Enock Maki 19. Butler Morris 20. Wellington Albert
Coach: Michael Marum
1. Jack Joass 2. Johnny Faletagoa’i 3. Kellen Jenner 4. Nathan Saumalu 5. Yamba Bowie 6. Nicho Hynes 7. Cooper Bambling 8. Braden Uele 9. Aaron Booth 10. Nicholas Brown 11. Andrew Davey 12. Setaimata Sa 13. Thomas Murphy 14. Lona Kaifoto 15. Bennett Leslie 16. Kouma Samson 17. Leonati Feiloakitau-Fetuani 18. Isaac Richardson
Coach: Steve Sheppard
|National Football Stadium|
|Lloyd Robertson Oval, Port Morseby|