Hello everyone, welcome to the 23rd ‘Churchie’s Comment’ for the year in your favourite rugby league newspaper — The National.
The SP Hunters flew to Cairns and then took an hour-and-a-half bus ride to Atherton last weekend to face Northern Pride, just a short while from their home ground. The Hunters were greeted and welcomed into the Atherton community as we mingled with locals and junior football teams who were present for the Gala day.
The Hunters have been working hard for the past few months and results have eluded us. Our effort has been great during this lean time, only letting ourselves down through decision making or poor execution. You make your own luck in rugby league but it seems the bounce of the ball hasn’t gone our way for a few months. So you would expect for us to get a breakout win, we would need to get all the luck. That was not the case against the Pride.
In a fierce contest, it’s a game I feel the Hunters had to win a couple of times. The Pride got a lucky deflection to get themselves back into the contest through a try late in the match but ultimately the Hunters prevailed on the back of great skill execution.
In the Intrust Super Cup, you get punished for making too many errors so we’ve been working to make smarter decisions. We possess flair, speed and evasion, but it’s about teaching our players when and how to use that skill set.
It’s very rare to see your wingers pass to each other in modern rugby league, it showed great anticipation from Solo Wane to get himself onto the other side and be there for Junior Rau. Solo scored his second try a minute into the second half off a scrum move we have practised for a couple of weeks. It’s a play Terry Wapi came up with which allows him to have space to move and he did so with a try assist pass to Solo.
The Pride got back into the game with a couple of tries and levelled the scores at 16-all. This is when the Hunters really iced the big moments. Following on from a kick return, Solo got to dummy half and ran around the defensive line and stood up the fullback to complete his hat-trick of tries.
Soon after a long sweeping play from the righthand sideline saw the ball passed to Charlie Simon, who ran to the line, kicked in behind and regathered for a try. With a few minutes to go the Hunters in control and leading by 12 points, Ase attempted a field goal to put us well and truly out of reach but unfortunately was unsuccessful. The ensuing set, saw the Pride get a try and a last ditch hope of a draw.
As luck would have it, just as the full-time siren rang the Pride put a in cross field kick that landed and took a lucky bounce away from the Pride and was swooped on by Junior who ran 70 metres to put it down. As Junior raced towards the try line he was greeted by large group of PNG fans who urged him to take it around to under the posts.
It capped off a great trip to Atherton where the community and greater Queensland country people loved the Hunters being in their area. It was also a great opportunity for the large PNG community (some 8,000 PNG people) outside of PNG itself, to travel from Cairns to watch us play.
The chef from our hotel, who was from Africa, had even researched what food our people preferred.
And it showed as each time we ate, there was never any food left over, as the boys enjoyed his cooking.
It was a great opportunity to get out to see a part of Queensland the boys might not have ever had the chance to. Until next week, stay safe, play safe and let’s all respect and be kind to each other.