The Mothers Day clash at BMD Kougari Oval in Brisbane had enough quality moments from both sides to keep the fans entertained but it was the visiting side’s desperation and nerves in the final quarter that saw them edge in front in the 76th minute thanks to the man they call the Mack Truck.
Importantly, the Hunters spine in captain Ase Boas, fullback Adex Wera, pictured, hooker Wartovo Puara Jr and halfback Watson Boas controlled their sets and managed the game well enough for their team to stay in the contest.
The Seagulls had the ascendency early in the opening half with fullback Patrick Templeman (9th minute) and then hooker Mitch Cronin (22nd minute) crossing for the home side while five-eighth Shaun Nona converted both tries.
Minoga grabbed his first try in the 18th minute for the reigning premiers and No.7 Watson, sporting head gear, scored off his own bomb in the 26th minute.
The halftime score was 12-12, a fair reflection of the first 40 minutes given both teams had opportunities and defended resolutely.
An Ase Boas penalty goal in the 44th minute saw the Hunters edge in front (14-12) for the first time.
Teteh and Wera had a calming effect on the back line which helped make skipper Boas’ job easier.
The pair also made telling runs in mid-field showing their experience and spatial awareness.
With play going from end to end and mistakes and the odd turn over stifling play a little, Wynnum Manly looked to have struck a decisive blow with 15 minutes remaining through winger Daniel Ogden, who shook off his opposite Butler Morris to score on the Hunters’ right edge.
Nona’s sideline conversion attempt was waved away and the home side settled into a rhythm looking to protect their 16-14 lead.
To the Hunters’ credit, they kept their nerves and did not try to win the match off every set but, led by their spine as well as old hands Teteh and Wera, kept chipping away at the Seagulls and were rewarded with a mistake by the home side in the 74th minute off a Watson Boas bomb.
The ensuing scrum 20m out from the Gulls line saw half Watson Boas shift it to reserve Charlie Simon.
The former Lae Tigers playmaker then sent it on to his skipper Ase Boas, who threw a cut-out pass to Minoga, who had the speed and power to get past opposite Delouise Hoeter to plant it in the Gulls’ left corner sparking off celebrations on the Hunters bench and among the players on the field.
Despite a few nervous jitters over the final two minutes, coach Michael Marum’s side kept their cool to finish on top.
The win saw the Hunters move up a spot to 12th place on eight points, six outside the top four.
The Hunters will close out May with two home games back-to-back against the CQ Capras (Round 11, Sat, May 19) and the Townsville Blackhawks (Round 12, Sun, May 27).
Wynnum Manly Seagulls 16 (Patrick Templeman, Mitch Cronin, Daniel Ogden; Shaun Nona 2 con) PNG Hunters 18 (Wille Minoga 2, Watson Boas tries; Ase Boas 2 con, pen) at BMD Kougari Oval.
Round 10 Results: Sat, May 12 – Redcliffe Dolphins 24 Northern Pride 26, Tweed Heads Seagulls 20 Ipswich Jets 18; Sun, May 13 – Wynnum Manly Seagulls 16 PNG Hunters 18.