The SP PNG Hunters are back at the Santos National Football Stadium this Saturday, 1st July when they host the Central Queensland Capras in Round 16 of the QRL Hostplus Cup. Kick-off is at 3pm.
The Hunters are flying high at the moment with three wins from their last four games and will ride a wave of confidence coming into this weekend’s fixture.
The Hunters recent run of wins includes the big scalps of the Tweed Seagulls and the Sunshine Coast Falcons, in a sign that the proud PNG-based club is on the rise.
They made the most of a four-game stretch on home soil between Rounds 11-14, collecting four invaluable competition points and blooding a host of next-gen talent.
To then travel to the Sunshine Coast last weekend and defeat a highly experienced Falcons side at home is a major boost for the club as they eye a finals berth in 2023.
The Hunters have shown considerable improvement in key areas over the last month of football. Their discipline has been superb and their defensive efforts even better. Individually and as a unit, the Hunters are staying in their systems and getting all the little things right without the ball.
To keep the Falcons to just 10 points last weekend is a credit to the Hunters defensive improvements and the work of the coaching staff.
On the back of their compelling defence, the Hunters continue to show that they are one of the better attacking teams in the competition on their day.
The involvements of their key attacking players last week – Morea Morea, Sakias Komati and Jamie Mavoko – saw the Hunters pile on the points in the second half as fatigue set in.
The spine combined smartly all over the park as the Hunters moved the ball to the spaces and into the hands of their strike outside backs. Rodrick Tai (152 metres, one try assist), Solo Wane (155 metres, one try) and Morea (135 metres, one try, one assist) all capitalised on their opportunities last week to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
As well as the Hunters outside backs played last weekend, it was again thanks to the work of their forward pack in yardage.
Led by captain Ila Alu (17 carries, 177 metres), the Hunters poured through the Falcons’ middle to win quick play-the-balls and scatter the defensive line on the following play.
Crashing the middle before shifting to the spaces is a blueprint the Hunters can follow again this weekend against the 7th placed Capras as they look to climb further up the Hostplus Cup ladder.
The Central Queensland Capras will also carry some form into this weekend’s fixture, having overcome the Mackay Cutters 30-22 in Round 15.
Front rower Bailey Butler crashed over for two tries in that game, suggesting that the Capras might employ a similar approach to the Hunters this weekend in how they attack.
The Capras will roll out with number of players of Papua New Guinean heritage this weekend at the Santos National Football Stadium and they can expect a warm reception from the home crowd. Bob Tenza, Nixon Putt and Valentine Culligan are all named to feature for the Central Queensland-based side in Round 16, in what should be a mouth watering clash between two powerful forward packs.
The last time these sides met was late last season at Bycroft Oval while the Hunters were still based in Queensland’s Runaway Bay.
The Capras ran away convincing winners in that encounter but the Hunters will be confident of getting one back against their Hostplus Cup rivals on Saturday.
Player to Watch
SP PNG Hunters utility Trevor Solu has featured six times so far this regular season and is quickly building himself a reputation as a dynamic impact player.
With two tries and two assists from his six appearances so far, Solu is providing real X-factor for the Hunters midway through the contest.
Spending most of his playing time at dummy-half or through the middle third, Solu’s ballplaying and support game has been a standout over the last few matches. He’s got a wonderful feel for the game and great vision, giving him a knack of popping up in the right places and at the right times.
Solu did a wonderful job to support Morea Morea last week against the Falcons, collecting a late offload to dive over beside the uprights and extend the Hunters lead.
He is still learning his game and is a work in progress at QRL level, but Solu has shown in limited opportunities so far that he is a genuine player of the future.
He will share the hooking role with Judah Rimbu again this week against the Capras, and can be a real point of difference around the ruck in how the Hunters work upfield.
1. Morea Morea
2. Brandon Nima
3. Junior Igila
4. Rodrick Tai
5. Solo Wane
6. Sakias Komati
7. Jamie Mavoko
8. Junior Rop
9. Judah Rimbu
10. Epel Kapinias
11. Benji Kot
12. Julius Yakopa
13. Ila Alu
14. Trevor Solu
15. Tommy Moide
16. Seal Kalo
17. Henry Wan Noki
18. Siki Konden
19. Sanny Wabo
20. Warren Glare
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