By BENJAMIN KOITAKA
NEW additions Terry Wapi and Gahuna Silas starred for SP PNG Hunters as the team recorded their first home win of the season with a 24-22 victory over the South Logan Magpies at the National Football Stadium yesterday.
The round 11 Intrust Super Cup win was the club’s second of the season with Wapi, 22, producing an assured performance while the wily and feisty Silas had an impact when he was on the field.
New halves pair Nick Hasu and Justin Yoka set up all four of the home side’s tries in a promising sign for coach Michael Marum in his search for the winning formula.
The Hunters took the early sin-binning of centre Brendon Gotuno in their stride and Gahuna and Hasu worked the short side move which resulted in Gairo Kapana running the first try of the game in the 11th minute.
Man-of-the-match Wapi added his name to the scorebook in the 18th minute when he stepped through some flimsy defence by the Magpies forwards Brendon Gibb and Shaun Fensom capping things off with a dramatic dive.
The try was built off a 40m break by Gahuna Silas in the lead up.
The home side enjoyed a 10-0 lead midway through the first half and had the estimated 3500 fans roaring with approval before the Magpies driven by a break by fullback Lincoln Port that got deep into Hunters territory.
That pressure resulted in Mitch Frei crossing untouched after a repeat set
Magpies captain and five-eighth Guy Hamilton converted for his side to trail 10-6.
The visitors No.1 and No.6 combined to send winger Matt Soper-Lawler in the 31st minute.
Hamilton was unable to convert for a tied 10-10 score.
Yoka angled a grubber two minutes before halftime that deflected off goal post and Hunters skipper Moses Meninga dived on the ball in goal that helped the side to a 16-10 lead at the interval.
Wapi blotched his copy book four minutes after the resumption of play when he lobbed a pass that was intercepted by Soper-Lawler for the speedster to run 90m to score and Hamilton kicked the goal to level the scores again.
Hunters Junior Rau found some form with a try off another Yoka grubber in the 50th minute which Hasu converted for a 22-16 lead.
A Wapi break in the set after the restart led to a penalty right in front of the Magpies goal posts and Meninga had no hesitation in taking the easy two points to push the lead past a converted try at 24-16.
Alex Bishop led the fight back for his side when he sliced through from close range after prop George Fai broke several tackles and off loaded to support.
Hamilton potted the conversion for his side to trail 24-22.
The Hunters with experienced hands Ase Boas and Silas on the field in the last five minutes closed down the contest and backed by some stinging defence and intent kept out the visitors to secure the win.
Hunters coach Michael Marum, who was reserved in his response to the win, indicated he probably would maintain the same line-up for next week’s Round 12 clash with the Redcliffe Dolphins in Queensland.
“Today was a scrappy win for us,” Marum said.
“The performance was good but I can’t say it was our best showing.
“We were not able to control the ball the way we wanted to and we made some handling errors.”
Marum did see one bright spot and commended skipper Meninga for his leadership and his game
“As a leader I thought Moses went well. He led by example so that was good for us.”
Marum agreed that debutant Wapi had impressed him.
“Terry was quiet good and he will develop and learn as he takes more games,” Marum said.
PNG Hunters 24 (Terry Wapi, Junior Rau, Gairo Kapana, Moses Meninga tries; Nick Hasu 3 con, 1 pen) Souths Logan Magpies 22 (Matt Soper-Lawler 2, Alex Bishop, Mitch Frei tries; Guy Hamilton 3 con)
Results: Rd 11 – Sat, May 25: Northern Pride 14 Tweed Heads Seagulls 30, Townsville Blackhawks 30 Easts Tigers 8, Burleigh Bears 34 CQ Capras 12, Ipswich Jets 8 Sunshine Coast Falcons 62, Mackay Cutters 16 Redcliffe Dolphins 12; Sun, May 26: Norths Devils 24 Wynnum Manly Seagulls 34, PNG Hunters 24 Souths Logan Magpies 22.
By BENJAMIN KOITAKA