The SP PNG Hunters have produced a commanding 42-20 win over the Townsville Blackhawks at Jack Manski Oval in Round 8 of the QRL Hostplus Cup.
The Hunters were slow to start in the slippery conditions but scrambled well to defend an early Blackhawks’ linebreak through the middle of the field. They couldn’t defend the consecutive knock on, penalty and six-again infringements that came next though, with Townsville capitalising on the field position to open the scoring with a well weighted grubber into the in goal for Jaelen Feeney.
The Hunters’ ability to defend their own line was tested again shortly after, with ill-discipline and poor handling gifting Townsville multiple sets attacking PNG’s try line. Despite that weight of possession and field position however, the Blackhawks would be denied by a resolute Hunters’ defensive unit which seemed to improve as the game went on.
Having soaked up a mountain of pressure, the Hunters worked up field thanks to a clever run from Wartovo Puara Jnr that drew a penalty before Dilbert Isaac charged into the defence for a 20+ metre carry that had Townsville retreating towards their own try line. Before they could react, a pinpoint kick from Mark Tony down the left tram line found a flying Matthew Jesse in support and the Hunters were on the board.
The Hunters would strike again just four minutes later when Sylvester Namo charged onto a lovely short ball from Puara Jnr and went over almost untouched besides the left post.
The Blackhawks would answer back smartly through Jordan Lipp in the 27th minute. A smooth right-side movement had the Hunters sliding on their own line and some nice footwork from Lipp found the space back on the inside to score in the right corner.
The Hunters came storming out of the gates in the second half to take a ten point lead thanks to tries from Anthony Worot and Brandon Nima. Worot latched onto an offload from Samuel Yegip through the line to score next to the posts before Junior Rop produced another offload on the left edge which put Terry Wapi down the touchline. A clever kick back on the inside found captain Brandon Nima who slid over the line to score.
The Blackhawks kept themselves in the fight following a try to Aaron Moore in the 51st minute but a barnstorming run from Emmanuel Waine midway through the second half broke the deadlock and the Hunters wouldn’t look back. Waine pushed through three Blackhawks defenders and engaged another two before finding forward-partner Namo in support for a well deserved try.
Solo Wane and Waine himself would score next for PNG but it was Runaway Bay Seagulls’ product and PNG Kokomos member Tyler Han who would score on debut to seal the result for the Hunters, 42-20.
Hunters’ Head Coach Matt Church was delighted but not surprised by the performance.
“We’ve been building towards a game like that and it’s nice to see it pay off,” said Church.
“We had a plan to target the middle and I think we probably missed our mark with that in the first half. Credit to the players though for sticking at it in the second forty. I think the points came off the back of that.”
Church said he was pleased to see all the hard work starting to pay off.
“It’s encouraging to execute a few things we identified during the week. It’s a great lesson for the players that when we stick to our processes, we’ll get the results we want,” said Church.
“We’re just really happy for everyone across the group. This is just rewards for our efforts.
SP PNG Hunters 42 def. Townsville Blackhawks 20