hunters

Hunters eye top spot

Sports

THE Papua New Guinea Hunters return to action in round 11 of the Intrust Super Cup tomorrow when they face an Ipswich Jets side looking to move into top five.
The Hunters spine of halves Ase and Watson Boas, hooker Wartovo Puara and fullback Stargroth Amean will need to recapture some of the form they showed in the Kumuls jersey in their 32-22 Pacific test win over the Cook Islands in Sydney on May 6.
The eighth-placed Jets (10 points) will have Pandia brothers Richard and Sebastian running out for them at the North Ipswich Reserve Oval and are expected to play their high tempo style of football – the kind that can cause all kinds of headaches for even the best-organised defences.
Coming off a 30-16 win over the CQ Capras in Rockhampton last round, the Ben and Shane Walker-coached side has started to hit its straps after a slow start to the season.
Centre Nemani Valekapa is in great form having scored a double last week while enterprising backs Luke Capewell and Dane Philips have the potential to ignite a free-flowing clash against the second-placed Hunters.
Hunters coach Michael Marum was forced to drop starting prop Henry Wan, who faced a sex charge in Sydney court this week, but in his place has put in vice-captain Wellington Albert.
The visitors are coming off a two-week break from the Q-Cup and coupled with the demise of Wan it is a mixed bag for the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side but Marum’s single-mindedness will ensure they take the field in the right frame of mind.
A Hunters (16 points) win could see them get the No.1 spot in the competition if leaders the Redcliffe Dolphins (16 points) fall to the Norths Devils on Sunday.
Captain Ase Boas’ boot could prove the difference with the five-eighth hitting a purple patch this season.
Clashes between the two sides have been entertaining from a tactical and physical perspective.
The ledger has the Hunters with four wins from the six matches against the Jets. The Hunters beat the Jets 18-16 last year at the NFS in their last match.
The Hunters have won in Ipswich with their 32-14 victory in 2015 one of their finest performances on the road.
The Hunters average 24 points against the Jets in fixtures since 2014 while the Ipswich side is right on their heels averaging 23 points against Marum’s men.
The Hunters biggest wins were their 40-22 win in 2014 and the aforementioned away victory in 2015 – both by 18-point margins.
The match will be broadcast live on TVWAN from 3pm.
SP Hunters:  1. Stargroth Amean 2. Bland Abavu 3. Israel Eliab 4. Adex Wera 5. Paul Wawa 6. Ase Boas (C) 7. Watson Boas 8. Wellington Albert (VC) 9. Wartovo Puara Jr 10. Esau Siune 11. Nixon Put 12. David Loko 13. Stanton Albert 14. Silas Gahuna 15. Rhadley Brawa 16. Enoch Maki 17. Moses Meninga 18. Ismael Balkawa 19. Muka Peter Kulu 20. Butler Morris (two to be omitted).
Fixtures: Sat, May 20 – Ipswich Jets v PNG Hunters, Sunshine Coast Falcons v Mackay Cutters; Sun, May 21 – Townsville Blackhawks v CQ Capras, Souths Logan Magpies v Northern Pride, Burleigh Bears v Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Redcliffe Dolphins v Norths Devils, Tweed Heads Seagulls v Easts Tigers.

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