They staged one of the greatest Houdini-type acts in the competition to pull off a sensational 43-36 win over the visitors.
While the Hunters celebrated after keeping their Graveyard reputation intact, the Dolphins would have been shell-shocked to comprehend how they let that out of the bag when they had led throughout the match.
The Dolphins working off their big forwards led by captain Jon Green and Bronco David Hala posted an 18-0 lead in the first half before the Hunters got on the board.
At half time the Dolphins led 24-10 and when the Hunters closed the gap to 28-20 with 20 minutes remaining on the clock the match was there for the taking by either side, particularly for the Dolphins.
And they did just that as they opened up the margin to 34-20 and put themselves in a seemingly comfortable position to inflict the Hunters’ second loss at home.
Current competition leaders the Northern Pride are the only visiting side that has won in Kokopo, 34-18 in Round 4.
That was the way the game was unfolding and when hooker Cameron Cullen laid on a try after some mesmerizing individual brilliance that would easily landed the “try of the match” award if there was such an prize.
But the Hunters had other ideas and started the winding climb towards keeping the Graveyard reputation intact with a flying Albert Patak latching onto a perfect pass after great lead up work to score taking the score to 34 to 26 after Zemming converted from the sideline.
The Hunters had two tries disallowed during the match when a third was pulled back under controversial circumstances. Garry Lo collected a grubber from his own in goal and skirted the defence before straightening and racing 8 metres up field before being tacked, with Wera scoring from the ensuing play the ball, only for the movement to be brought back for a penalty to the Dolphin’s in front of the Hunters posts for obstruction. The Dolphins converted to take the score to 36 to 26.
That’s when man of the match and Captain Israel Eliab stepped up and lead from the front.
The Hunters five-eighth after a break and with a lone Dolphin in chase slowed down and when he shifted into top gear again left fullback Paul Byrnes unable to match the sudden acceleration to score.
That closed the margin to 36-30 but time was running out on the Hunters.
But the home side just refused to throw in the towel and when lock Adam Korave scored after some impressive footwork for a try converted by centre Noel Zemming to level at 36-all, the Hunters second draw seemed a forgone conclusion.
The Dolphins after surrendering the good lead seemed to be content with a draw with just three minutes on the clock.
But the Hunters never-say-die attitude started to take its toll on the opposition and aided by a puzzling short kick-off play by the Dolphins, the Hunters worked the ball into the Dolphins territory and Eliab potted a field goal to break the deadlock. Unbelievably to the home fans the Hunters had hit the front for the first time in the match 37 to 36.
Another short kick-off went horribly wrong when Hunters winger Garry Lo, anticipating the short kick lined up midfield, scooped it up and raced away to drown the Dolphins hopes.
Hunters coach Michael Marum admitted, “We had a bad start”.
But he like almost everybody who watched the game struggled to find the most suitable words to describe his side’s remarkable win.
That victory which is expected to be talked about for some time puts the Hunters into outright second spot on 21 points to displace Ipswich Jets who crashed to the Burleigh Bears 50-12.
SP Hunters point scorers:
Thompson Teteh – 2 tries, Garry Lo, Albert Patak, Adam Korave, David Loko, Israel Eliab, Adex Wera - 1 try each. Noel Zemming - 5 from 8 conversions. Israel Eliab - 1 field goal. 43 points
Redcliffe Dolphins point scorers:
Oliver Regan, Aaron Whitchurch, Cameron Cullen, Jon Green, Joe Bradley, Con Mika 1 try each. Adrian David 6 from 6 conversions. 36 points.