The SP PNG Hunters finished with nine men on the field in today’s 40-12 loss to Brisbane Tigers at Bycroft Oval in one of the Intrust Super Cup’s most eventful matches in years.
The Hunters controversially had three players sent to the sin-bin in the final nine minutes and second-rower Benji Kot sent off in the 57th minute after losing another to the bin for 10 minutes earlier in the half.
The first to be banished was centre Brandon Nima, along with the Tigers’ Sam Lavea, in the 43rd minute. Only four minutes after the pair returned to the field Kelly was dismissed for lifting in a three-man tackle with the Tigers leading 24-12.
Already down to 12 men, forward Samuel Yegip was binned for a tackle in the 73rd minute.
PAPUA New Guinea-born Brisbane speedster Xavier Coates admits the appeal of being coached by Craig Bellamy looms large as he appears set to join the Red Hill exodus to link with Melbourne.
The Storm and Broncos declined to comment publicly on Coates’ future yesterday after reports had emerged he would commit to a two-year deal with the premiers.
Melbourne officials denied any deal had been signed with the 20-year-old, while Coates’ manager Nash Dawson said his client hasn’t “signed or agreed anywhere, or even made a decision yet”.
But Brisbane players were overheard at Wednesday’s training session joking with Coates about a prospective move to Melbourne after months of conjecture over his future.
Coates has ranked as one of the most in-demand players in the National Rugby League (NRL) with the Storm weighing in with a two or three-year offer for his services last month, Brisbane beefing up their own extension and the Titans also offering a three-year deal, as reported by NRL.com six weeks ago.
Bellamy is still yet to decide his own future beyond this season, with another stint as Storm coach or coaching director in 2022 the most likely scenario, followed by a step back from the NRL altogether.
SP Hunters utility Edwin Ipape will miss the next two Queensland Intrust Super Cup matches through suspension as coach Matthew Church’s men aim to rebound against Brisbane Tigers on Sunday (3pm kick-off).
The Papua New Guinea international was handed the ban for a dangerous tackle after the Hunters’ 18-25 Kokoda Cup loss to Burleigh Bears in round five at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast last month.
Meanwhile, the Hunters have called on one of the country’s most exciting teenagers to wear the No.6 jersey for round six at Runaway Bay’s Bycroft Oval on the Gold Coast.
Judah Rimbu, who has played four games off the bench this season, will replace experienced playmaker Watson Boas who has returned to England to complete his contract with League One club Doncaster.
TOP PERFORMERS in the Hunters team.
Some of the top performers for the SP PNG Hunters after the first five rounds of the IntrustSuperCup
MELBOURNE Storm centre Justin Olam has challenged Digicel Cup franchises to establish development pathways for players into the country’s premier rugby league competition.
The former Lae Tiger addressed the coaches of all 12 Digicel Cup franchises from Melbourne last week.
Olam gave credit to the coaches for instilling a strong work ethic among semi-professional players.
PNG Hunters News & Results
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2021 Results, Draw and Ladder
PNG Hunters 18 Wynnum Manly Seagulls 20
Hunters 44 IIpswich jets 22
PNG Hunters 26 Mackay Cutters 14
PNG Hunters 32 vs Gold Coast Falcons 12
PNG Hunters 18 vs Burleigh Bears 25
Brisbane Tigers 40 PNG Hunters 12
PNG Hunters v Wynnum Manly Seagulls
PNG Hunters V Ipswich Jets
PNG Hunters V Mackay Cutters
PNG Hunters vs Gold Coast Falcons
Burleigh Bears v PNG Hunters
PNG Hunters v Brisbane Tigers
South Logan Magpies v PNG Hunters
Redcliffe Dolphins v PNG Hunters
PNG Hunters v Townsville Blackhawks
PNG Hunters v Norths Devils
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