The SP PNG Hunters will resume the hunt this Saturday, 3rd June when they host the Tweed Seagulls at the Santos National Football Stadium in Round 12 of the QRL Hostplus Cup. Kick-off is at 3pm.
The Hunters are in the midst of a four-game stretch on home soil having fallen just short to the visiting Northern Pride last weekend.
Running out to an early lead in that game thanks largely to the involvements of halfback Jamie Mavoko, the Hunters were dealt a harsh blow with skipper Ila Alu leaving the field due to injury and two more Hunters players sent to the sinbin.
Despite going into the sheds up 16-6, the Hunters couldn’t overcome the added pressure and fatigue caused by their disrupted bench rotation. In contrast, the Pride made the most of their opportunities in the second half and played to the wet conditions smartly.
Thankfully for the Hunters faithful, the proud PNG-based club showed their trademark resilience and fight to produce two linebreaks through Sanny Wabo late in the piece. Like they did in Round 10 against Wynnum Manly, the Hunters finished strongest in their latest outing and will look to carry that momentum into this weekend’s fixture.
The Tweed Seagulls also come into QRL Round 12 following a loss, having capitulated against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls after taking an early lead.
The scoreboard read 12-6 after 20 minutes in that game, but by fulltime Wynnum Manly had constructed another five tries to finish up 38-18 winners.
The Tweed Seagulls are enduring an up-and-down season in 2023 as they search for combinations on the team list each week.
Welcoming players back from the Gold Coast Titans – such as Kruise Leeming, Klese Haas and Joe Vuna – can be a double edged sword as the NRL-affiliated players bring a wealth of talent but lack cohesion and combinations with the Tweed teammates around them.
Currently sitting in 7th position on the QRL Hostplus Cup ladder, Tweed will be desperate to return to their winning ways against the Hunters on Saturday afternoon and maintain their position inside the Top Eight.
Player to Watch
SP PNG Hunters halfback Jamie Mavoko is just 18 games into his QRL Hostplus Cup career and his development is an ongoing process.
Pointing and passing a team around the park is not an easy task and Mavoko has had to learn things the hard way since making his debut in 2022.
As he grows in experience and confidence however, Mavoko is beginning to have more of an impact in contests and he played out one of his best performances against the Pride last weekend.
The sleight of hand to pass backrower Julius Yakopa in for the Hunters first try was all class. Mavoko engaged the defence smartly, shaped to throw out the back to Morea Morea before straightening on his run to bring Yakopa onto the ball.
Not done there, Mavoko scored his first try at QRL level shortly afterwards to make a mockery of the Pride’s left-edge defensive unit. Again with Yakopa pushing off his hip and Morea threatening out the back, Mavoko sold the defence a big dummy to sneak over the line himself.
We are starting to see more of Mavoko’s running game in a positive sign for his development as a QRL halfback.
Mavoko’s kicking game has also improved out of sight in season 2023. He is finding the grass in yardage and finishing off the Hunters sets smartly to win field position for his team.
There is still plenty of improvement left in Mavoko as the Hunters on-field general and he will adopt lead playmaking duties again this week with youngster Joshua Mire named to play just his fourth Hostplus Cup game beside him in the halves.
1. Morea Morea
2. Brandon Nima (Captain)
3. Julius Igila
4. Rodrick Tai
5. Solo Wane
6. Joshua Mire
7. Jamie Mavoko
8. Junior Rop
9. Judah Rimbu
10. Epel Kapinias
11. Benji Kot
12. Julius Yakopa
13. Tommy Moide
14. Trevor Solu
15. Sanny Wabo
16. Seal Kalo
17. Casey Dickson
18. Siki Konden
19. Matthew Jesse
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