The Intrust Super Cup Round 23 clash was the Hunters’ last away fixture for the 2016 season and Michael Marum’s finals bound side, despite being weakened by the losses of Thompson Teteh through season-ending injury and Bland Abavu, Justin Olam and Adex Wera to suspension going into the match, were simply out-played by the hosts at Barlow Park.
The Hunters crashed to their eighth loss of the season – all of which have been on the road – and although the 24-point capitulation will not affect their fourth-place standing, the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side’s depth and smarts were tested by a team that was not in finals contention.
The Hunters started the match brightly with second-rower Timothy Lomai, pictured, crossing for the opening try in the seventh minute after five-eighth Ase Boas stepped off his right foot to cut through the Pride line before passing to the hard-running Kumul forward.
That joy was short-lived as a mistake off the restart gifted the Pride with cheap possession at the right end of the field.
Prop Sheldon Powe-Hobbs crashed over next to the uprights in the 10th minute and winger Khan Ahwang’s conversion levelled the scores at 6-6.
From that point on, the Pride’s experience came to the fore as they ruthlessly exposed the Hunters lack of experience in the backline and the visitors’ inability to lock the ball up and slow play down.
Tries to Tom Hancock, Javid Bowen, Jared Allen and Ahwang looked easy because the Hunters could not shut down the Pride’s second phase play or counteract the speed of their play-the-ball ensuring Marum’s men were always on the back-foot defensively.
Lomai punctuated the Pride’s momentum to grab his second four-pointer in the 27th minute which was a mirror of his first try but other than that the Hunters were soundly out-played in the opening 40 minutes to trail 26-10 at halftime. The second stanza was a little tighter with the home side opting to take a penalty goal in the 45th minute to increase the gap to three converted tries at 28-10.
Fullback Linc Port scored a 60m try after an Ase Boas grubber set up nicely for the defence enabling the Pride to counter attack.
At 34-10, the Pride had an answer for every Hunters offensive play and put the final nail in the coffin when centre Justin Castellaro dived over in the right corner and Ahwang’s sideline conversion saw the eighth-placed Pride reach 40 points.
The Hunters crossed for a consolation try through winger Butler Morris two minutes before full time but they could not avoid succumbing to their biggest losing margin against the Pride. To add insult to injury, winger Philemon Kimisive could be in trouble for a second half shoulder charge on Bowen while reserve hooker Gahuna Silas was sin-binned in the same half for a scuffle with Powe-Hobbs.
Pride 40 (Sheldon Powe-Hobbs, Tom Hancock, Javid Bowen, Khan Ahwang, Linc Port, Justin Castellaro tries; K Ahwang 5 con, pen) Hunters 16 (Timothy Lomai 2, Butler Morris tries; Noel Zeming 2 con)
Results: Rd 24 – Sat, Aug 20: Ipswich Jets 34 Tweed Heads Seagulls 28, Mackay Cutters 22 Souths Logan Magpies 40, Central Queensland Capras 0 Redcliffe Dolphins 40; Sun, Aug 21: Easts Tigers 12 Burleigh Bears 24, Sunshine Coast Falcons 30 Wynnum Manly Seagulls 28, Northern Pride 40 PNG Hunters 16.