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.
Worryingly for the Hunters, halfback Jamie Mavoko could only convert two of his side’s tries leaving a possible six points on the tee.
After the Hunters 4-54 drubbing in Townsville the previous week, the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side seemed to repeat their form from Jack Manski Oval allowing the Gulls to control the game with middles Cooper Page-Wilson, Jack Martin and Luke Gale and hooker Tyson Smoothy dominating play.
That domination led to tries by Delouise Hoeter, Kyle Foxwell, Matthew Milson and Smoothy as the Gulls ran rampant in the first stanza.
Compounding their situation, the Hunters conceded the first try of the second half to five-eighth Josh Rogers.
But the visitors were not about to throw in the towel and started the fightback in earnest with winger Matthew Jesse bagging a brilliant four-pointer before wily Sanny Wabo grabbed a double to cut the margin to 16-28 with 15 minutes remaining.
The hosts looked a little nervous when Rodrick Tai crossed in the 70th minute but managed to see off the final few minutes despite Tai crossing at the death.
The Hunters (9 points) maintain 10th place on the ladder despite the loss and are only three points adrift of the top eight.
With four consecutive home games (Rd 11 to 14) to look forward to coach Tepend and the squad will relish the return as they hope to add to their tally of three wins so far and build momentum and form and possibly snare a finals spot for the first time since 2017.
WM Seagulls 28 (Delouise Hoeter, Kyle Foxwell, Matthew Milson, Tyson Smoothy, Josh Rogers tries; J Rogers 4 con) PNG Hunters 24 (Matthew Jesse, Sanny Wabo 2, Rodrick Tai 2 tries; Jamie Mavoko 2 con) at BMD Kougari Oval, Brisbane. H/T: 22-0 (WM).
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