By MARTHA DERUAGE
THE SP Hunters kept in striking distance of the Q-Cup top six with a hard-fought 18-8 win over the Northern Pride in their round 18 clash at the National Football Stadium yesterday.
Coach Michael Marum was satisfied with the result saying his team had prepared for the match knowing they would be up against one of the genuine title contenders.
“The boys played defensively well all throughout the match and we got the result we wanted after last week’s disappointment,” Marum said.
An evenly-contested game was decided in large part off the boot of Hunters captain Ase Boas, who kicked two conversions and added three penalties as he recaptured his form off the tee.
The Hunters took a slender 6-4 lead to halftime in front of 5816 home fans thanks to an Adex Wera try in the 28th minute.
Pride centre Brett Anderson hit back for the visitors but without goal-kicking ace Jake Clifford, the Cairns side stand-in kicker Jack Campagnolo was unable to convert to trail by two points.
The Hunters started the second stanza with intent with sustained pressure in the Pride half resulting in the home side earning three crucial penalties at different stages which Boas converted to add to a conversion of a try in the 59th minute by speedster Edene Gabbie.
North Queensland Cowboys back Javid Bowen crashed over in the 75th minute for what was really a consolation four-pointer which Cowboys back-rower Ethan Lowe missed, but the Pride were a beaten side with few answers for the Hunters’ determined approach.
Marum spoke well of skipper Boas’ leadership in the match and also commended fullback Gabbie for his improving efforts.
“Edene started off playing in the centre and wing for us and now he’s doing well playing fullback. He is a local kid we picked up from the street and he is coming around, getting into the game,” Marum said. He insisted that the Hunters were had areas of their game to work on ahead of their next game against Norths in Lae on Sunday.
The win improved the Hunters standing to 10th place on 18 points still two points out of the top six.
PNG Hunters 18 (Adex Wera, Edene Gabbie tries; Ase Boas 2 con, 3 pen) Northern Pride 8 (Brett Anderson, Javid Bowen tries).
Rd 18 Results: Sat, July 14 – Redcliffe 40 Burleigh 28, Norths 42 CQ Capras 12, Townsville 22 Ipswich 14, Mackay 10 Easts 44; Sun, July 15 – Tweed Heads 14 Souths Logan 36, Hunters 18 Pride 8, Sunshine Coast 18 Wynnum Manly 6.
By MARTHA DERUAGE