By LARRY ANDREW
THE SP PNG Hunters gave their Lae fans a show on Sunday beating the Norths Devils 32-10 in an entertaining clash at the Lae Rugby League Oval.
In front of an estimated 6000 fans at the venue as well as hundreds outside the gate, Michael Marum’s men ran in five tries to the visitors’ two to move up another rung on the Q-Cup ladder after the round 19 fixture.
The Hunters are in ninth spot after the Country Week match which was hosted for the first time in the Morobe capital.
Captain Ase Boas had a perfect day with the boot kicking six goals (five conversions plus an early penalty) while fullback Edene Gabbie and reserve Charlie Simon each picked up a double on a clear but humid afternoon in Lae while lock Moses Meninga scored the other four pointer.
A big Devils pack held their own in the opening exchanges but faded as the afternoon wore even though former Cronulla Sharks forward Sam Tagatese had some impressive touches off the bench.
Gabbie scored the Hunters’ first try scooping up the loose ball metres from his own try line to run the length of the field to the delight of the crowd.
Boas converted for an 8-0 lead.
Prop Meninga added his name to the score sheet in the 23rd minute after ground a Boas grubber.
Boas added another assist to his ledger stepping through the Devils defence to set up Gabbie for his second try to give the Hunters an ominous 20-0 lead.
The visitors regrouped and came back with reserve dummy half Jack Miers capitalizing on a back-pedaling defence with winger Herbie Farnworth converting to trail 20-6 at halftime.
The Devils were the first on the board in the second half despite having the Hunters cross their line with Watson Boas failing to ground the ball. Centre Luke Pollock dove over for an unconverted try in the right corner after the Devils had the Hunters edge defence outnumbered. At 20-10 the game looked to be in the balance but the visitors started to get sloppy and struggled to complete their sets inviting the Hunters back into the contest.
Hunters’ Lae boy Charlie Simon exposed the Devils tiring defence with two tries out of dummy half close to the line to ensure the defending champions won by a comfortable margin. Hunters 32 (Edene Gabbie 2, Charlie Simon 2, Moses Meninga tries; Ase Boas 5 con, pen) Devils 10 (Jack Miers, Luke Pollock tries; Herbie Farnworth con) HT: 20-6 (Hunters) at Lae Rugby League Oval.
Rd 19 Results: Sat, July 21 – Redcliffe Dolphins 16 Easts Tigers 14, Burleigh Bears 24 CQ Capras 14, Northern Pride 34 Ipswich Jets 24, Sunshine Coast Falcons 40 Macaky Cutters 18, Souths Logan Magpies 10 Wynnum Manly Seagulls 22; Sun, July 22 – Tweed Heads Seagulls 12 Townsville Blackhawks 62, PNG Hunters 32 Norths Devils 10.
By LARRY ANDREW