fought back in the second half to ward off a classy Ipswich Jets 40-22, with
Jason Tali bagging a hat-trick of try and Garry Lo scoring his 22nd tries in 23
Tali and inspirational hooker Wartovo Puara Junior shared the
man-of-the-match honours in what was a pulsating Round 23 match in front of a
packed to the rafters Kalabond Stadium in Kokopo, East New Britain,
buzzing with an estimated 5000 fans, a good number of whom were primary and high
Lacking the aggressive attacking attitude of David Loko,
Adam Korave and George Benson, the SP-sponsored team fought back from a 10-point
deficit in the first half to hold the Jets to a try-less second half, with Noel
Zeming kicking five conversions.
Hunters started off timidly in the first set
as the Jets displayed class and one wondered whether coach Michael Marum’s
decision to stand down Loko and Benson would come back to haunt him.
were slick off the mark and within the first two minutes they were already on
the Hunters 10-metre line in possession of the ball and Marmin Barba, Brisbane
Broncos fullback Ben Barba’s younger brrother, crossed for the first points of
Hunters needed an inspirational play to shake them into action
and Esau Siune did that with a bone-rattler, on prop Kurtis Lingwoodock
deep in the Jets half.
The hit saw the Jets forward lose the ball and
Hunters winger Adex Wera snuck over the line in the ensuing set.
Israel Eliab raised the flags for the home side to take the lead 6-4.
momentum swing back the Jets’s way with the Ipswich side enjoying a mountain of
The Hunters did themselves no favours, conceding consecutive
Former Kumul and Ipswich Jets prop, Rod Griffin, put on a
powerful performance for the visitors and added starch to each set with a hard
run that always attracted several entusiastic defenders. The Jets
continued to probe for openings but some desperate defence Eliab kept the
But the Jets were not to be denied, with centre Brendon Marshall
scoring an unconverted try.
Hunters pannicked somewhat and made the mistake
of trying to play catch-up.
That resulted in Barba intercepting a Thompson
Tete pass to race 80m to score under the posts for a 14-6 lead.
Walker-coached side kept on the pressure and Marshall plucked a Dane
Philips coss-field kick to score and take the 20-6 lead with a successful
Hunters fought back late in the half, with Jason Tali crashing
over in the 47th munite to give the Kokopo fans some hope.
The halftime score
Whatever Marum told his men at the break seemed to work as the
home side played the second 40 on the front foot. Eliab shifted to a play-making
role, making way for Albert Patak, while No.6 Dion Aiye moved to his familiar
The move proved a masterstroke as Eliab inspired his side
with more touches of the ball while taking on more defensive responsibility.
Halfback, Roger Laka started the Hunters comeback, regathering his own
grubber and sending in Willie Minoga for the first try of the second stanza,
which Zeming converted to get the Hunters within four at 20-16.
Pandia off-loaded in heavy traffic to a flying Tali, who virtually came from
nowhere to score his second try.
Zeming added the extras for the Hunters to
finally wrest the lead away from the stubborn Jets 22-20.
Lawrence Tu’u run provided the time and space for Puara to get his pack firmly
on the front foot as the crowd roared on the Hunters. Puara then scored the try
of the day, starting a break from dummy half before finishing it off by beating
the Jets cover defence to score and dent the visitors’ confidence.
the Hunters looked set to go on and put on more points but Ipswich were
determined to get back. they kicked a penatly to get within six points.
arm-wrestle continued for before Tali ran in for his third try to take the
game out of reach at 34-22 with four minutes remaining.
The Queensland Cup’s
leading try-scorer, Gary Lo, put the icing on the cake in the 80th minute
weaving and shrugging his way over the line to score under the posts as
the full time siren sounded.
Hunters 40 (J. Tali 3, G. Lo, A. Wera, W. Puara,
W. Minoga tries; N. Zemming 5, I. Eliab con) Jets 22 (B. Marshall 2, M. Barba 2
tries; M Barba 2 con, 1 pen) at Kalabond Stadium, Kokopo, East New Britain.