Hunters slump to second loss


THE SP PNG Hunters where kept scoreless for the second time in a row in their 24-0 loss to the Northern Pride yesterday.
It was also the biggest losing margin at home for coach Michael Marum’s side. The Hunters previous biggest losing margin at home was by 16 points in their 34-18 loss, also to the Pride, in Kokopo in their debut year (2014).
The Hunters biggest loss was a 60-28 score line away to the Tweed Heads Seagulls in 2014 as well.
The Hunters were beaten 10-0 in Round 1 by the Tweed Heads Seagulls.
The Round 2 Intrust Super Cup clash was played in wet conditions at the National Football Stadium with the visitors scoring all the points through tries to Matthew Musumeci (3rd minute), William Bugden (6th), Shawn Pierce (31st) and Jack Hampson (53rd).
Pride five-eighth Jake Clifford, who has played six game for the North Queensland Cowboys last year, kicked three conversions and a 64th-minute penalty to help his side to go 2-0 in the season after they beat defending champions Redcliffe last week.
The Pride had better tactics and played smarter football in the conditions and gritted out a torrid last quarter to score their second win in PNG since 2014.
The Pride took an 18-0 lead at halftime with Clifford and halves partner Jordan Biondo-Odo and hooker Connor Jones controlling the pace and tempo of the game.
Marum reorganised his spine in the second 40 with five-eighth Charlie Simon shifting to dummy half while reserve Nick Hasu moved into first receiver and fullback Joe Joshua was brought into the front line as a pivot. Bland Abavu was moved from centre to the custodial role while Brendon Nima came off the bench into the centres.
Winger Musumeci crossed for the opening try after a Clifford long ball caught the Hunters right edge short while prop Bugden broke through some flimsy defence close to the line for the visitor’s second four-pointer.
The Pride went further in front after centre Pierce dodged a tackle close to the line and had enough momentum to bounce over for the try as Hunters captain Adex Wera unsuccessfully called for it to be ruled a double movement.
Pride fullback Jack Hampson scored a sneaky try in the second half when Clifford switched the point of attack to the blindside catching the Hunters defence off guard.
The Hunters tried hard but lacked the polish and poise needed to put points on while coming up with errors and gaffs that meant they were never in the contest.
This was highlighted by Hunters No.6 Charlie Simon who was penalised for a clear double movement late in the second half as well as a playing the ball inside the 10m from a Pride drop out.
Local fans were also disappointed with some of referee Ethan Menchin’s calls and let him know about it as he left the field after the game.
The Hunters had several opportunities but failed to take advantage with poor passes, poor handling and a lack of support their biggest enemies.
The Hunters best was back-rower Junior Rop who ran hard and tackled with venom.
Marum said his side were a work in progress and the loss of quality halves in the Boas brothers (Ase and Watson) as well as hooker Wartovo Puara Jr would take time to replace.
“We can’t put too much pressure on our players at this stage and we’ll look forward for another big match at home against Falcons next Sunday,” Marum said.
Skipper Wera agreed that his playmakers in No.6 Simon and halfback William Mone as well as No.9 Patrick Morea struggled to get the side’s offence going but added that the rest of the players did not play as a team.
“We did not play well as a team. We were all over the place. We did not execute. We were beaten by a better side,” Wera said.
Pride coach Ty Williams said it was the club’s second win in PNG and they were building momentum after last week’s triumph over the Dolphins.
PNG Hunters 0 Northern Pride 24 (Matthew Musumeci, William Bugden, Shawn Pierce, Jack Hampson tries; Jake Clifford 3 con, pen)
Rd 2 Results: Sat, March 16 – Bears 42 Jets 8, Dolphins 6 Falcons 30, Devils 12 Tigers 30, Cutters 20 Magpies 22, Capras 16 WM Seagulls 32; Sun, March 17 – TH Seagulls 24 Blackhawks 16, Hunters 0 Pride 24.