SP PNG Hunters coach Matt Church is seeking clarity on the match review and judiciary processes in the Intrust Super Cup as his team prepares for an important clash with the Townsville Blackhawks at Bycroft Oval on Saturday.
The Hunters will play without hard-working prop Epel Kapinias, who was injured during a tackle in last Saturday night’s Round 8 loss to the Redcliffe Dolphins. Kapinias potentially faces a season-ending injury.
The Intrust Super Cup match review committee issued a Grade 3 charge against a Redcliffe player for his role in the tackle. However, the judiciary panel overturned the decision and cleared the player.
Church said there was confusion around the process given that the match review committee and judiciary seemed to have different opinions judging by this week’s outcome.
The loss of Kapinias is the only change for the Hunters heading into the important clash with the Blackhawks. The teams enter the match with a 3-5 win-loss record that doesn’t reflect the impact that both have had on the competition.
The Blackhawks have named a squad including Kumuls representatives Moses Meninga and Kyle Laybutt.
“Our guys like to challenge themselves against players who they know and may have played with before and players like Moses and Kyle are among them,” Church said.
“There’s a very healthy respect there but also a desire to play well and our players are looking forward to the game.
“We know the Blackhawks are a very good team and they’ve been in every game this season, only losing by a few points in most of those games. They will provide us with a really good test this weekend of how we’re playing.”
The Blackhawks have lost five of their last six matches by eight points or fewer, placing them on the fringe of the top eight. Their current streak of three consecutive away losses is the longest streak in the club’s history.
Overall, the Hunters have won six of their 10 previous matches against the Blackhawks with Saturday’s match the first to be held between the teams outside of Townsville or PNG.
Church said Bycroft Oval was feeling like a home-away-from-home for the Hunters with strong support from PNG supporters spurring the players on.
“We really appreciate the support and there is plenty of noise at the ground which helps our players,” Church said.
“It’s not a big ground but it certainly sounds very loud when our supporters are in full voice and we’re looking forward to playing well for them this weekend.”
This match is the second in a four-week burst for the Hunters before a bye. Church has previously earmarked the blocks of matches as important to the Hunters’ long-term hopes in the season.
SP PNG Hunters to play Townsville Blackhawks at Bycroft Oval, Runaway Bay on Saturday, June 5 at 2.10pm:
1. Norman Brown. 2. Junior Rau. 3. Emmanuel Waine. 4. Jokadi Bire. 5.Solo Wane. 6. Edwin Ipape 7. Solomon Pokare. 8. Stanton Albert. 9. Wartovo Puara Jnr. 10. Samuel Yegip 11. Benji Kot 12. Keven Appo. 13. Ila Alu (c). Interchange: 14. Judah Rimbu. 15. Sylvester Namo 16. Enock Maki 17. Mark Piti. Coach: Matt Church.
Townsville Blackhawks: 1. Jaelen Feeney. 2. Michael Carroll. 3. Carlin Anderson. 4. Josh Hoffman. 5. Luke Geary. 6. Kyle Laybutt. 7. Shaun Nona. 8. Joe Boyce. 9. Cameron King. Sam Hoare. 11. Nathan Barrett. 12. Patrick Kaufusi. 13. Griffin Neame. Interchange: 15. Sam Murphy. 16. Moses Meninga. 17. Jordan Kenworthy. 22. Sione Lousi. Coach: Aaron Payne.
Match officials: Wyatt Raymond. Sam Swift. Jordan Morel.