DESPITE descending into an error fest in the later stages, Saturday’s Intrust Super Cup trial match between the SP Hunters and the visiting Central Queensland Capras, coach Matthew Church managed to give all his 28 players a run for the first time.
The Hunters played some entertaining football to score a 30-12 win over the Capras, who had their moments under the heat of the mid-afternoon sun at the Oil Search National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
Former Hunters forward McKenzie Yei was monstrous on defence and left several former teammates bruised and battered with his tackling ferocity but that was not enough to lift the Capras who failed to maintain the intensity after a bright opening quarter.
After Capras prop Ryan Jeffrey broke through some soft goal line defence for the opening try in the 7th minute Hunters experienced halves Ase Boas, in the No.7 jersey and Charles Simon, started to take control.
Halfback-cum-hooker Nick Hasu replied for the hosts with a burrowing effort from dummy half and winger Junior Rau was given a saloon passage to the line for the second try to take an 8-6 after the first quarter.
Centre Joe Joshua, a prodigal son, who was shown the door for poor discipline last year, showed the kind of talent he possess by scoring his team’s third four-pointer off a well-worked backline move that went through both halves and fullback Terry Wapi’s hands before finding the Western Highlander.
Impressive rookie forward Casey Dickson stepped off his left foot and went through for a try to take Church’s men out to a 20-6 halftime lead.
Capras were the first to score in the third quarter through winger Cooper Marshall reducing the margin to eight points (20-12) for men from Rockhampton.
But that was as close as they got as poor handling brought about by the fatigue and the heat ensured neither side would complete more than two sets for the rest of the match.
Stanley Olo bagged a try with a typical blindside dart and the diminutive Simbu man then turned provider slipping an inside ball for prop Mark Piti to score the Hunters sixth try in the 74th minute.
Aside from the high error count which saw the Hunters complete less than half their sets and the below average goal kicking — Boas, Hasu and Simon all auditioned for the role — the home side came through unscathed and with their confidence up heading into to Saturday’s second trial match against the Blackhawks in Townsville.
A satisfied Matthew Church, who used the entire squad that featured seven debutants, said he was happy with the result but added that there was room for more improvement.
“Defence is one area that we still need to work on. We were a bit scrappy with handling errors but otherwise I am happy with the performance,” he said.