THE Papua New Guinea Hunters have a chance to consolidate their place in the top six with a valuable away win over the Norths Devils on Sunday.
The SP-sponsored side finished off defending champions, the Northern Pride, 36-16, at Kokopo with a powerful performance in the second half that showed what coach Michael Marum’s side can do when they play mistake-free, structured football.
“At this stage in the competition we are just taking one match at a time but getting a win on the road will be a big boost for us,” Marum said of his side which has won two from five on the road in 2015. “It’s a tight comp even at this stage where a win can see you work your way slowly up the ladder and a loss can see you drop down several places so we’re not taking this (game against Norths) lightly.”
The test now is for the finals hopefuls to prove their worth with the third win on the road in their Queensland Cup Round 10 fixture at Bishop Park, Brisbane.
The match will also be the second game for the halves pairing of Ase Boas and captain Israel Eliab, who were solid in last week’s 20-point win at Kalabond.
The playmaking combination faces its first real test this weekend and this should give Marum a fairer idea of the pair’s ability to lead the side around the park and produce the clutch plays when needed.
“I thought Israel and Ase’s combination clicked against the Pride last Sunday.
“They just have to be consistent week in and week out and provide the direction and leadership for this side and we’ll get the results.
“Israel has a lot of responsibility in leading the team and making the calls this season and I think he’s done a good job. He’s a creative player and he is try-scorer – he’s scored six so far this year and having Ase inside him now does take the pressure off but I still expect him to play a big role in the team because he is experienced and understands the structures.”
Marum said the pressure was not just on the pair but on everyone in the squad to perform and the match against the Devils would be the perfect dress rehearsal for the expected blockbuster against competition leaders the Townsville Blackhawks in Round 11.
“The Blackhawks are a very good side and they’ve got all those Cowyboys playing for them but we just have to focus on Sunday’s match before we worry about Townsville.”
The Kumul assistant coach said his team would have to produce a near perfect performance to have any chance of beating the side that featured Kumuls Neville Costigan, Rhyse Martin and North Queensland Cowboys first graders Robert Lui, Kyle Feldt and Glen Hall.
The Devils on the other hand may not have the star-studded roster the Blackhawks have but are led by capable former NRL backrower Tod Lowrie and exciting talent in Ryan Millard at fullback and playmaker Sam Foster in the No.6 jersey.
They edged the cellar dwellers the Central Queensland Capras 26-24 last round and are 12th on the ladder with three wins from nine matches.
Matches between the two sides have been competitive with each earning a win in their two previous encounters – Devils won 32-24 at home in Rd 12 and Hunters squared the ledger 32-22 in Rd 22 last year.
The Hunters leave for Brisbane on Saturday and return home on Monday. The match will be live on TVWAN from 2.30pm.
Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Noel Zeming 4. Thompson Teteh 5. Adex Wera 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Ase Boas 8. Henry Wan 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Kato Ottio 12. Brandy Peter 13. Adam Korave 14. Roger Laka 15. Lawrence Tu’u 16. Willie Minoga 17. Enoch Maki 18. Atte Bina The National
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36