It would be an understatement to say the rain came to Tapout Energy Stadium on Saturday; this was a torrential deluge; however it was not wet enough to spoil Easts party, as the club celebrated humble backrower Tory Giess’s One Hundredth Intrust Super Cup match with a 14-8 win over the Hunters.
Giess is the kind of hardworking backrower that every team needs, his actions on the field speak louder than his words. He is the kind of team mate other players want to play with.
While the weather ensured this would not be a game for the purists it was certainly exciting and kept the crowd that braved the elements enthralled right to the final whistle. This was not to be the high energy razzle dazzle football that has marked the Hunters start to the season, but rather tough old fashioned football.
The Hunters boast a very big pack, noticeably bigger than the 2014 version; they aimed up at the Easts pack all day, and were continually met by resolute defence particularly from captain Dane Hogan and Jake Foster. Joel Romelo may, more often than not, be the smallest player on the field however this does not seem to enter his thoughts as he throws himself bodily at opposition forwards. Shane Neumann continues to enhance his reputation as possibly the best defensive centre in the ISC with two of his tackles on Thompson Teteh were amongst the biggest hits of the day.
The first points of the day came after 5 minutes when new Tigers fullback Donald Malone chimed into the backline, collected a Shaun Nona pass and linked with Richie Kennar who showed great skill to get the ball down in the wet and give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
The Malone/Kennar combination had been to the fore a few minutes earlier when Malone found space down the left and freed Kennar for a long run down the grandstand touchline.
Malone, usually a winger or centre, showed just how talented he is to make such a good showing in his first outing as a fullback for some time.
Brandy Peter should have equalised for the Hunters after a bullocking run by Henry Noki however he dropped the ball with the try line beckoning and the Hunters best chance of the opening 30 minutes was gone.
For much of the game it seemed as if the Hunters were waiting for something to happen. Whenever a Hunter saw clear air it seemed to be assumed he would run the length of the field and score, when the points did not flow as easily as they had in the first two rounds the Hunters seemed bereft of a Plan B. Three times they were tackled in possession on the last tackle and simply handed the ball over, something Michael Marum will surely be talking to his halves about this week.
With 8 minutes to go Israel Eliab tried something. He hoisted the ball into the swirling wind and rain, Richie Kennar just missed collecting it and Thompson Tetah following through scored the try. This was no easy try for Tetah though as the ball slipped and slid on the wet surface, however he showed great patience to wait before diving on the ball and securing the points.
The halftime score was 4 all.
Eight minutes into the second half the Tigers backline sparked into life with the best attacking raid of the day. Shaun Nona combined perfectly with halves partner Joel Romelo, Donald Malone chimed into the backline to create the extra man before passing to Shane Neumann. Neumann delivered a perfectly timed pass to Mahe Fonua who went in untouched in the corner.
Shaun Nona converted and the Tigers were out to a 10-4 lead.
In the second half the Hunters noticeably lifted the speed of their game as they tried to overrun the Tigers. However unable to make any inroads around the ruck they were forced to start running sideways and much of the intensity of their runs was lost.
The Tigers had learnt from their draw with the Hunter twelve months ago and realising points were going to be at a premium took all the points that were on offer. With thirteen minutes gone they were awarded a penalty 20m out. Captain Hogan pointed to the posts, Shaun Nona slotted the goal and the Tigers extended their lead to 12-4.
Finally, with 15 minutes gone in the half Roger Laka conjured up another try. This time it was the grubber kick, rather than the up and under, however the result was the same with big Thompson Teteh following through to score try number 2 for the day and 5 for the season. The conversion was missed and the score was 12-8.
With 6 minutes to go the Hunters were penalised for hands in the play the ball, something they were guilty of for much of the day. Tigers captain Dane Hogan took the smart option and pointed to the posts, Shaun Nona slotted the goal and took the score to 14-8, which was the final score.
Cameron Munster looked good in his first hit out at centre, showing that class will win out irrespective of the number on your back.
Liam McDonald in a rare start showed that he can be just as effective starting as off the bench.
For Tigers one of highlights of the second half was the blossoming partnership between Dane Hogan and Shane Newmann who are looking ever more dangerous down the right hand the side.
EASTS TIGERS 14 (Mahe Fonua, Richie Kennar tries; Shaun Nona 3 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 8 (Thompson Teteh 2 tries)
Easts Tigers: 1. Donald Malone 2. Richie Kennar 3. Shane Neumann 4. Cameron Munster 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Shaun Nona 7. Joel Romelo 8. Matt Zgrajewski 9. Tom Butterfield 14. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 10. Foisa Peni 15. Francis Tualau 16. Dean Britt 17. Liam Tyson.
PNG Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Oti Bland Tony 3. Adex Wera 18. Thompson Teteh 5. Edward Goma 6. Israel Eliab 7. Roger Laka 8. Henry Noki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Kato Ottio 12. Brandy Peter 13. Adam Korave 14. Ase Boas 15. Atte Bina 16. Willie Minoga 17. Warren Glare