By ISAAC LIRI
THE PNG Hunters play perhaps their most important game of the regular season on Sunday against ninth-placed Wynnum Manly Seagulls at the National Football Stadium.
The prize: the 2017 Intrust Super Cup minor premiership.
If Michael Marum’s men win they secure the top spot heading into the finals and their first minor title since joining the competition in 2014.
Marum has advised his troops to remain calm and focused on the task at hand.
“This is an important game for us. We know that we have to win this,” Marum said.
The other draw will be the rugby league fan’s first chance to see Kumuls captain David Mead live in action against the Hunters for the first time.
Marum said he was aware the Seagulls, while out of finals contention were bringing up a strong outfit and if his side were not switched on they could be embarrassed in front of their home fans – something his charges want to avoid at all costs.
The sides are meeting for the first time this season but importantly the visitors have yet to beat the Hunters on home soil.
The Hunters have lost twice (Norths in round 4 and Tweed Heads in round 15) and drawn one (Mackay in round 20) at home already but with so much at stake Marum said the occasion would spur his men on.
“It is also going to be our last home game of the regular round and we know that there will be a lot of people coming to support us,” Marum said.
The Hunters proved in their 24-16 win over the Blackhawks last round that they have the championship-winning defence, they just have to maintain that good form at home.
Through their video sessions this week, Marum and his men had seen the style of football Wynnum play and with a host of quality players any effort less than 100 per cent will not be enough.
“We haven’t played them this year and we can’t write them off because there are on the ninth spot. We will have to be at our best again,” Marum said.
The 43-year old has instructed his men to back up their solid defence displayed last week if they are to finish victorious.
“We want to repeat the same defensive effort from last week.”
Aside from Mead, experienced former North Queensland Cowboys five-eighth Travis Burns, hard-running winger Peter Gubb, captain Mitch frei and Salesi Funaki in the back-row and five-eighth Shaun Nona will provide the Hunters with a stern test.
“They’re coming up with some experienced players including David (Mead) so we have to handle that challenge and get the win.”
The day’s other fixtures will see the Motu Koita Rugby League Origin sides, Central Origin and NCD Origin face off at 12.50pm followed by the Digicel Cup round 14 match between the Port Moresby Vipers and Waghi Tumbe which is after the Hunters-Seagulls 3pm game.
Hunters: 1.Stargroth Amean, 2. Bland Abavu, 3. Israel Eliab, 4. Willie Minoga, 5. Butler Morris, 6. Ase Boas (C), 7. Watson Boas, 8. Wellington Albert (VC), 9. Wartovo Puara Jr, 14 Enoch Maki, 11. David Loko, 12. Nixon Put, 13. Stanton Albert; Reserves: 20. Wawa Paul, 15. Rhadley Brawa, 16. Moses Meninga, 17. Karo Kauna Jr, 18. Esau Siune, 19. Brandy Peter, 20. Adex Wera
Rd 24 fixtures: Sat, Aug 19 – Jets v Cutters; Sun, Aug 20 – TH Seagulls v Pride, Magpies v Capras, Hunters v WM Seagulls. Bye: Blackhawks, Falcons, Dolphins, Bears, Tigers, Devils.
By ISAAC LIRI