The SP PNG Hunters have bounced backed into the winners circle after three consecutive loses defeating the Tweed Seagulls 34 -18 at home in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Coach Stanley Tepend said that win came about because the boys never gave up.
“With the disappointing loss last week at home doubled with injuries and suspensions, the boys had to re-gather and to play their role this weekend” Tepend said.
SP PNG Hunters Beat Tweed Seagulls 34 - 18 [Photo by SP Hunters]
This resulted in the Tommy Moide diving over from the ruck under the sticks 9 minutes after Tweed five-eight Toby Sexton crossed over in the opening minutes of the first half.
Both conversion were successful bringing the scores 6 all 10 minutes into the first half.
A SECOND half fight-back by the SP PNG Hunters in Brisbane Saturday was not enough to overcome a 0-22 halftime deficit against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls as they went on to lose 24-28.
But it was enough, though, to prove that Stanley Tepend’s team has the talent and mental strength to stay in the contest regardless of how many point they were behind by.
The Hunters outscored the home side five tries to one in the second half after letting four tries in the opening 40 minutes of the Hostplus Cup round 10 fixture at BMD Kougari Oval in eastern Brisbane.
Both teams scored five tries in a typical “tale of two halves”, Seagulls coach Mat Head said.
PNG hunters Beat Fiji Silktails
SP Hunters prop Junior Rop scored a hat-trick of tries to help his side earn a 26-12 win over the Kaiviti Silktails and claim the inaugural Melanesian Bowl at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka, Fiji, on Saturday.
Rop put in an assured performance in the club’s second preseason fixture in as many weeks after a poor display in last week’s 20-12 loss to the visiting Central Queensland Capras.
In that match at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby, Rop’s ball handling was an issue with the rugged ball carrier guilty of several unforced errors in dry conditions but the 28-year-old enforcer muscled his way over the Kaiviti line thrice in an 11-minute period (56th, 59th and 67th minutes) of the second half of a match played in wet and slippery conditions.
The Hunters trailed 4-12 at halftime but came back strongly in the second dig scoring 22 unanswered points.
SP PNG Hunters coach Stanley Tepend says preseason squad member and Lae Tigers fullback Sanny Wabo deserves his spot in the Hostplus Cup team.
Tepend responded to critics saying there was no nepotism in the Hunters selection processes and every player had made the team strictly on merit.
He said Wabo was an experienced fullback in the Digicel Cup and replaced PNG Kumul Edene Gebbie, who left the Hunters preseason training prematurely.
Wabo was named in the Hunters’ initial 40-man pre-season squad in December but took up another deal with a third-tier club in the Sunshine Coast Rugby League.
However, the deal didn’t work out and Wabo was recalled into the Hunters early last week where he started training with the side.
Tepend said Papua New Guinea international Gebbie, who showed interest to play for the Hunters in 2023, left the club halfway through preseason as he wanted to pursue a move to Australian competitions.
The PNG Hunters took to Bycroft Oval at Runaway Bay, with a host of supporters in attendance, and produced a stunning 32-24 win over competition heavyweights Burleigh Bears.
The Hunters started strongly and maintained their dominance right through until the final stages to notch an emotional victory at their home-away-from-home in Runaway Bay.
The Hunters defended their errors strongly to begin the game, pressuring Bears winger Tony Francis into dropping the ball in Burleigh’s first attacking movement and then cleaning up a dangerous Guy Hamilton grubber shortly afterwards.
The confidence with which the Hunters defended their line then quickly translated into their efforts with the ball. A clever chip kick from Kingstimer Paraia from inside his own half forced an error from the Bears and fullback Tyler Han was in perfect position to punish the mistake, plucking the loose ball out of the air and running in the Hunters' first try in the sixth minute.
Hunters prop Francis Kembis was next to get in on the action when he scored beside the right upright in the 13th minute. Some lovely deception from hooker Wartovo Puara fooled the ruck defence and pitched Kembis into half a gap on the Bears tryline and the powerful front rower would not be denied from there.
The Hunters were almost in again in the 30th minute when a smart left edge shift through Judah Rimbu and Han created the space for Han to drop a grubber kick into the in goal. Hunters centre Benji Kot won the race to the ball but the Hunters were called back for an obstruction in the lead up.
The Bears managed to slow the Hunters' momentum as the game settled into a grind but didn’t look like threatening to score as the Hunters dominated proceedings to take a 12-0 lead into the break.
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