The SP PNG Hunters will attempt to start their 2023 Hostplus Cup campaign with back-to-back wins when they take on the Souths-Logan Magpies this Saturday, 18th March at the Logan Metro Football Fields. Kick-off is at 6:30pm.
The Hunters have already collected their first scalp of the season having beaten Hostplus Cup new-comers the Western Clydesdales in Round 1 last week. Despite a host of changes to the playing squad and staff, as well as the added challenge of travelling to Toowoomba for that clash, the Hunters made a statement in the 20-10 win. Errors and ill-discipline are commonplace at this stage of the season but it was the Hunters resilience and effort in defence that most impressed against the Clydesdales. PNG’s ability to defend their errors and repel a desperate Clydesdales attack in good-ball laid the platform for the Hunters strike attacking players to go to work.
Spine players Sakias Komati, Jamie Mavoko and Morea Morea combined smartly in attack to set up four tries last weekend, and all three will need to be at their best again when they take on the Magpies this Saturday.
Souths-Logan also come into Round 2 off a strong win, having made light work of the Ipswich Jets last weekend in a five-tries-to-three rout. Magpies backrower Jesse Jennings was the star of the show, scoring two tries on the edge as Souths-Logan ran away with the win.
The Magpies will observe their first home game of the season on Saturday when they host the Hunters. We can expect a big crowd and a hostile welcome from Souths-Logan as they too look to start their season with two wins on the trot.
Player(s) to Watch
The SP PNG Hunters will make minimal changes to the side that beat the Western Clydesdales in Round 1, with Rodrick Tai (centre) profiling as the most notable inclusion.
Tai made his Hostplus Cup debut last season and has enjoyed a meteoric rise since then, including a successful World Cup campaign with the PNG Kumuls and a gruelling NRL pre-season under Wayne Bennett with The Dolphins NRL squad. Tai is a powerful runner of the ball in yardage, a sound defender and a target in the air when attacking the try line. If Komati, Mavoko and Morea can position him smartly in attack and give him enough early ball, Tai will trouble the Magpies edge defenders on Saturday.
Tai’s combination with rising star Morea will be one to watch out for this week, too. The young fullback was awarded the Hastings Deering Player of the Match in Round 1 with his footwork and ballplaying skills a highlight in the Hunters win. As their combination develops, Morea and Tai could form a lethal partnership on the Hunters right edge in attack.
SP PNG Hunters Head Coach Stanley Tepend said while last week’s result was promising, the players are remaining focussed.
“That was our first Cup game as a group last week and we took a lot of positives from that,” said Tepend.
“In saying that, there’s still lots to work on and we’re staying focussed on ourselves this week. Most teams in the Hostplus Cup will have NRL affiliated players dropping back to play and this week is no different. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
With back-to-back away games to start the season, the Hunters stayed in Brisbane throughout the week which Tepend said has helped their preparation.
“We stayed in Brisbane this week which has been good. The boys have trained well and we really want to back up last week with another win on Saturday.”
1. Morea Morea
2. Siki Konden
3. Benji Kot
4. Rodrick Tai
5. Solo Wane
6. Sakias Komati
7. Jamie Mavoko
8. Junior Rop
9. Wesser Tenza
10. Epel Kapinias
11. Sherwin Tanabi
12. Julius Yakopa
13. Ila Alu (captain)
14. Judah Rimbu
15. Tom Moide
16. Joshua Mire
17. Valentine Richard
18. Brandon Nima
19. Henry Noki
20. Junior Igila
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