Hunters edge Magpies


THE SP Hunters pulled off a brave 26-22 win over the Souths Logan Magpies in round 11 of the Hostplus Cup on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The relief was palpable across Bycroft Oval when the full-time siren sounded, with the Hunters holding onto a four-point lead in the final quarter while visitors Souths Logan fought for their second win of the season.
They couldn’t do enough though, as the Hunters defended their narrow lead to claim a much-needed two competition points.
It was the Hunters who started fast at home, playing to their strengths through the middle to generate some ruck speed and work into attacking field position.
From there, Junior Rop dug deep into the line to engage the defence before popping a lovely short ball to Dilbert Isaac in support.
Isaac crashed into two Magpies defenders – and the goal posts – on his way to scoring the opening try of the match.
The Magpies responded in kind, taking advantage of some ill-discipline from the Hunters to work up-field and camp themselves on Hunters’ own try line.
They would go no further though, with the Hunters working smoothly in unison as Souths Logan shifted the ball to both edges only to be met with a resolute defensive unit.
Slotting Judah Rimbu in at fullback (with Tyler Han and Matthew Jesse in the casualty ward this week) proved a masterstroke by Hunters coach Matthew Church, as the young playmaker provided some slick hands in attack.
Roderick Tai was the beneficiary in the 15th minute – making the most of some early ball to put a brutal left hand fend on his opposite man and dot down on the right edge to stretch the Hunters’ lead to 12-0.
Souths Logan clawed back with two quick tries to Christian Hazard and Harradyn Wilson, but their good work was undone when Terry Wapi produced his second aerial acrobatic effort in as many weeks, planting the ball down in the left hand corner in the 33rd minute.
Wapi’s celebrations were short-lived though, as Souths Logan answered straight back with winger Benaiah Bowie finishing off a sharp left-edge movement in the 38th minute which brought the scores to 16-16 at half-time.
Neither side had trouble getting out of their own end with penalties and errors giving away field position cheaply for both parties, and it was Souths Logan who would capitalise on this first when Justin Fai crossed in the 46th minute to give the them lead for the first time.
The Hunters didn’t panic, absorbing the pressure and controlling the ball to fight their way back into the game when the ever reliable Solo Wane scored in the 55th minute.
For all the smart work of their outside backs though, it was the Hunters’ middle forwards who were most influential and Isaac’s second try of the night was testament to that.
Despite coming close on a number of occasions, Souths Logan couldn’t produce a miracle play in the final 20 minutes, as the Hunters scrapped and fought for their third win of the season, finishing 26-22 over the Magpies.
Church said he was pleased with his players’ efforts. “That was a good result for us,” he said.
“We’ve known that win has been coming for a while now.
“It’s really pleasing to see the boys stick to the process and get some reward for their efforts.
“We are constantly learning and growing as a group, and we’ll take a lot out of winning a close game like that. There’s still a long way to go, but that win is a good example of how far we’ve come as a unit this year.” said Church
The Hunters will face Northern Pride in round 12 on Sunday.
Results: Sat, June 11 – Hunters 26 Magpies 22, Jets 30 Tweed Heads 40, Falcons 22 Bears 32, Pride 22 Devils 26, Capras 22 Blackhawks 16, Cutters 32 Dolphins 34; Sun, June 12 – Tigers 22 Wynnum Manly 32.