It’s been seven days since the SP PNG Hunters last took the field in the QRL Hostplus Cup competition and they get a chance on Saturday, 20th May to respond when they take on the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls at BMD Kougari Oval. Kick-off is at 3pm.
The Hunters have endured a tough week’s preparation following a disappointing loss to the Townsville Blackhawks in QRL Round 9. The Blackhawks were far too strong for the visiting Hunters in that game, dominating in yardage to slowly pile on the points.
The Hunters showed glimpses of their attacking potential but didn’t win enough of the little contests to put themselves in a position for a comeback.
A 60th minute try to speedster Solo Wane highlighted the attacking prowess of the Hunters as they made a break down their left edge in yardage before shifting smoothly through the backline to Wane in the right-hand corner. The combination of Wesser Tenza, Sakias Komati, Jamie Mavoko and Morea Morea has been a highlight of the Hunters 2023 campaign and all four spine players will need to be at their best again on Saturday afternoon.
How the Hunters respond to last week’s loss in Round 10 against Wynnum-Manly will be a good test of character for the PNG-based club, given the Seagulls currently sit above the Hunters in 9th place on the QRL ladder. A win against Wynnum-Manly would put PNG within touching distance of the Top Eight.
The Seagulls come into Saturday’s fixture fresh off the bye and will field a strong contingent of NRL-contracted players. Deine Mariner, Delouise Hoeter and Tyson Smoothy are among the first-grade representatives that will line up for Wynnum-Manly in QRL Round 10 and how the Hunters contain their impact will go a long way to deciding the result.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup though will be against Seagulls bench forward Kitron Laka, who will face his former club for the first time since joining Wynnum-Manly in 2023.
A powerful line runner and bruising defender, Laka will surely receive plenty of attention from his former teammates when he takes the field for the home side on Saturday.
Player to Watch
SP PNG Hunters interchange forward Tommy Moide has been one of their best contributors in the pack this season.
With an average 92 running metres per game and a tackle efficiency just shy of 95%, Moide has ensured the Hunters lose none of their go-forward through the middle of the field when he enters the contest.
Moide has embraced his bench-impact role smartly so far this year but has been rewarded for his performances with a starting jersey in Round 10.
Moide will line up alongside Junior Rop and Ila Alu around the ruck to begin the game on Saturday, giving PNG three effective yardage merchants to win the middle. All three are powerful carriers of the ball with good leg drive through contact, and they have the ability to generate ruck speed and create opportunities for Wesser Tenza to scheme from dummy-half.
Moide’s greatest attribute though is the ballplaying option he offers in PNG’s forward rotation.
Listed at 172cm and 109kgs, Moide has soft hands and vision that belies his big frame, and he is an effective distributor for the Hunters through the middle of the field. His ability to square up defenders before throwing a pass out the back can create space for his teammates to attack on the edges.
He is just eight games into his QRL career and will line up against a far more experienced Wynnum-Manly pack on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean Moide can’t have a major impact on the Hunters attack in this one.
SP PNG Hunters Head Coach Stanley Tepend said he is looking for a response from his players on Saturday.
“We were obviously far from our best last week and we’ve worked hard to fix what we need to, heading into this weekend’s game,” said Tepend.
“Our start was poor in defence, so that’s something we’ve worked on this week. If we can keep ourselves in the contest, we know we’ve got points in us.”
“The boys are working hard and competing for spots and they’ve got a good chance to respond on Saturday.”
1. Morea Morea
2. Matthew Jesse
3. Benji Kot
4. Rodrick Tai
5. Solo Wane
6. Sakias Komati
7. Jamie Mavoko
8. Junior Rop
9. Wesser Tenza
10. Tommy Moide
11. Epel Kapinias
12. Julius Yakopa
13. Ila Alu (captain)
14. Judah Rimbu
15. Joshua Mire
16. Koso Bandi
17. Seal Kalo
18. Sanny Wabo
19. Henry Wan Noki
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