THE Papua New Guinea Hunters continued their great start to the Quensland Cup beating defending champions Mackay Cutters 24-16 at the Kalabond rugby league ground in Kokopo on Saturday.
The win, the second on the trot for the Michael Marum-coached side, had some historical significance being their first home victory and game.
Heavy rain created difficult conditions for the players and kept some fans away, but little could dampen the mood in the SP Hunters camp after they posted two late tries to clinch their first win on home soil.
About 1,500 fans generated an electric atmosphere and they were at their most boisterous in the final 10 minutes when the physical contest was in the balance.
In the end after trailing 10-8 at halftime, the SP Hunters showed control and discipline to clinch the historic win.
Typically, any infringement whether for or against, would immediately cause an uproar by the players. This however was not the case as the Hunters accepted their mistakes and the referee’s calls and got on with the game.
Discipline kept the Hunters above water as the Cutters looked to assert themselves in the wet conditions. The home side weathered the battering while hooker Wartovo Puara Junior and captain Israel Eliab guided the side back into the contest.
The gritty Cutters looked on target to spoil the home town party when tireless forward Dan Beasley barged over and Liam Taylor converted for a 16-14 lead.
But the Cutters paid a high price for an early turnover from the re-start, gifting the Hunters field possession and a golden chance to build pressure. They were good enough to convert with a 75th minute try to Noel Zemming putting them back in front 18-16. Feeding off the home support, giant Hunters centre Thompson Teteh ignited the early celebrations when he forced his way over on the stroke of full-time.
“No, definitely not the result we wanted, but they are going to be hard to beat, I think for us it’s disappointing to lose but certainly an improvement from last week. We’s have been filthy if we had gone backwards, there are pretty obvious areas we got to work on, overall we go back with a pretty good feeling of this place but very disappointed in the loss” Cutters coach Kim Williams said.
“We lost in the last ten minutes, dropped the four ball times in tackle one or two, the game was there for us to win but we didn’t and full credit to the Hunters, when it is was crunch time, they held onto the ball, and we didn’t do that.”
Both teams fought for the lead but it was the Hunter’s backline led by fullback Adex Wera that looked likely to dismantle the visitors’ defence.
Powerhouse performances by centre Teteh and rugged winger Garry Lo in attack and on defence kept their side in the match. The National
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
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201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
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Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36