The answer about whether the PNG Hunters are a genuine Premiership winning chance in 2017 was answered with an emphatic yes in Townsville on Saturday afternoon, as the Hunters overcame a second half onslaught from the Blackhawks to run out 24-16 winners and be one step closer to the minor premiership.
It all started well for the Hunters who were dominant in the first part of the match, and their two tries in the first ten minutes to Stargroth Amean and Watson Boas, probably did not underline their hold on the game. Townsville got back into the game, and eventually on top, starting with a try to Carlin Anderson, and then two more at regular intervals. By half time, the Hunters looked to be glad it was over.
But the real tough test was to begin after half time. Townsville picked up where they left off, and were dominating the game, but without scoring. The Blackhawks had the vast majority of the ball and field position, and it felt like they were on the Hunters line for a solid five minutes, and either an error or another Hunters penalty gave the PNG some relief. It was 58 minutes gone before the Hunters finally had appeared to have withstood the storm.
As so often happens in rugby league where a team dominates but doesn’t make it count on the scoreboard, Townsville failed to score and the Hunters eventually crossed through a cheeky try to Israel Eliab. Having received a penalty the PNG centre tapped and ran from 10 metres out instead of the standard pass from the tap. It caught the Blackhawks by surprise, but Eliab still had to drag three of them to the line.
Another try to the occasional maligned centre gave him a double and a penalty goal gave the Hunters the win and a guaranteed home finals at minimum.
PNG HUNTERS 24
Tries: Stargroth Amean (4m), Watson Boas (10m), Israel Eliab (62m), Israel Elib (70m)
Goals: Ase Boas 3/4 Conv, 1 Pen
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 16
Tries: Carlin Anderson (19m), Paul Byrnes (29m), Jonathon Rueben (37m)
Goals: Carlin Anderson 2/3 Conv
One of the Intrust Super Cup’s newest rivalries is one of its better ones, and the next instalment of the Blackhawks v Hunters kicks off on Saturday afternoon. It is the first of two all Top 6 clashes for the weekend, and will have a big say on the race for the minor premiership.
It is the Hunters toughest game of their final three and a win in Townsville will have them in the best position to claim a maiden minor premiership, a prize they lost out to Townsville in 2015 by just a point. A loss will open up the race to just about every team in the top 6 except Townsville who are currently seven points behind with three rounds to go.
PNG bounced back from the loss against Redcliffe with a good 20-4 win against Ipswich, and hopefully the late season blemish at Dolphin Oval was the loss they had to have on the way to the minor premiership and they have named a strong a side as has been seen in 2017.
There’s nothing wrong with the Blackhawks side either, they have no less than the competition’s leading point scorer in Carlin Anderson at the back, speedster Jonathon Reuben, and a quality halves pairing in Kyle Laybutt and Michael Parker-Walshe.
For all the quality of the backlines, the battle of the forwards will be key, and both sides offer plenty in particular the match up of the two number 13’s Dan Beasley and Stanton Albert.
The game is available to watch via a live stream courtesy of the QRL website, and will be well worth a view.
1. Carlin Anderson 2. Paul Byrnes 3. Jordan Drew 4. Davin Crampton 5. Jonathon Reuben 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 8. Francis Molo 9. Anthony Mitchell (c) 22. Oshae Tuiasau 11. Blake Leary 12. Andrew Niemoeller 13. Daniel Beasley 14. Kierran Moseley 15. Jordan Kenworthy 16. Sione Lousi 17. Kieran Quabba
Coach: Kristian Woolf
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Willie Minoga 5. Butler Morris 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Brandy Peter 11. David Loko 12. Nixon Putt 13. Stanton Albert 14. Enock Maki 15. Moses Meninga 16. Rahdly Brawa 17. Karo Kauna Jr. 18. Muka Peter Kalu 19. Esau Siune 20. Wawa Paul 21. Silas Gahuna
Coach: Michael Marum
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