Hunters edging way back

Sports

ARE the drums beating for the SP PNG Hunters to surge into Intrust Super Cup finals contention?
That was the question after Papua New Guinea’s favourite sons recorded their fourth win of their past five games with a 26-12 victory over the Mackay Cutters on Sunday. All year those close to the defending premiers have been saying they would improve as the season wore on, with a significant turnover of playing personnel disrupting their start to the 2018 campaign.
Sunday’s round 14 Q-Cup clash against the Cutters at Oil Search National Football Stadium saw PNG never headed after scoring first via centre Thompson Teteh and going on with the job.
At halftime the score was 20-6 in favour of the Hunters.
The ladder now shows the Hunters, with 14 points, in ninth spot, narrowly held out of the top eight on for-and-against by the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
As far as finals football goes, the Hunters are four points outside the top four with Burleigh (22 points), Townsville (20), Redcliffe (18) and Souths Logan (18) holding the slots that matter.
The next best sides making up the bottom half of the top eight has the Pride (18), Norths (16), Tweed Heads and Sunshine Coast (14).
The Hunters’ last four games have seen the Hunters beat Mackay, Townsville, Central Queensland and Wynnum Manly, interrupted by a 30-12 loss to Easts.
While cynics may point out that the Cutters, Capras and Seagulls occupy the bottom three places on the table, Townsville is one of the premiership favourites.
Making matters more impressive, the Hunters have played the past three weeks without star playmaker Ase Boas, pictured, who contracted dengue fever two weeks ago.
The 29-year-old managed a cameo off the bench and had several touches but will need another game or two to get back into full stride.
Coach Michael Marum said he would consider Boas for Friday night’s game against Ipswich Jets at North Ipswich Reserve.
The Hunters’ next five matches after the Jets match are at home providing the side a great launch pad back into the top four.
They play the Falcons, Dolphins, Pride, Devils and Bears in successive weeks with all these teams having beaten Marum’s men in the first half of the season.
PNG Hunters 26 (Thompson Teteh, Watson Boas, Adex Wera, Stanton Albert tries; Watson Boas 4 con, pen) Mackay Cutters 12 (Jayden Hodges, Cooper Bambling tries; Jack Joass 2 con)
Round 14 Results: Sat, June 9 – Burleigh Bears 28 Northern Pride 30, Sunshine Coast Falcons 14 Souths Logan Magpies 8, Townsville Blackhawks 32 Easts Tigers 0, Tweed Heads Seagulls 13 Central Queensland Capras 12; Sun, June 10 – SP PNG Hunters 26 Mackay Cutters 12, Norths Devils 28 Redcliffe Dolphins 20, Wynnum Manly Seagulls 30 Ipswich Jets 24. – QRL

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