Hunters target Blackhawks


THE PNG Hunters’ credentials as a finals contender will get its first legitimate test when they host the Townsville Blackhawks in their round 12 Q-Cup clash on Sunday.
The home side are in 10th place on 10 points, four outside the top four, with five teams in front of them and are coming off a sustained patch of good form where they have won two games in a row over teams (CQ Capras and Wynnum Manly Seagulls) ranked in the bottom half of the competition.
The second-placed Blackhawks (7-3), with Kumuls forward Rod Griffin, set to start in the No.10 jersey, are coming off a 26-16 win over Wynnum, and looking to maintain their top-two spot searching for their seventh consecutive win.
Michael Marum’s men hold a 5-2 record over the Blackhawks, who joined the competition a year (2015) after the Hunters.
As a travelling side Townsville are yet to beat the Hunters in PNG (in three attempts) with their 11-10 loss in 2016 the closest they came to victory over the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side.
The match will be televised live on TVWAN Action from 3pm on Sunday at the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
For the Hunters, Marum’s men are coming off that solid 18-10 win over the Capras and looking to impress their fans in an important clash heading into the second half of the season with their next match away against the Easts Tigers.
Marum said his side were wary of the Blackhawks but with their rising confidence levels and their aim of figuring in the finals come September the stage was set for a tense but entertaining clash.
“The Blackhawks have got a big pack and that is something we are looking forward to facing. The Blackhawks have had a good start to the year with six wins on the road,” Marum said.
“We know where to improve and our defence is one area that we need to polish up in order to get another win, our third in a row.
Marum said the visitors had named a mobile and rugged pack led by Griffin and featuring Jake Marketo, Temone Power and Joe Boyce in the starting pack while former NZ Warriors Sioni Lousi and Andrew Niemoeller off the bench.
“We understand they’re bringing up an in-form pack, coming up with their best side and they’ll be a very tough challenge for us.”
At stake, apart from Q-Cup points, is the Air Niugini Kokoda Cup, which Hunters claimed with a 24-16 win at the Jack Manski Oval in round 23 last year.
The Hunters have beaten the Blackhawks in their last two meetings but have to contend with a side in great form.
Marum said any changes to the side named on Tuesday would be done tomorrow during the captain’s run.
The Digicel Cup fixture between Gulf Isou and Waghi Tumbe kicks off at 12.30pm as a curtain raiser while the Enga Mioks and Port Moresby Vipers game will be played after the Hunters-Blackhawks fixture at 5.15pm
Hunters: 1. Adex Wera 2. Junior Rau 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Willie Minoga 5. Edene Gabbie 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Enoch Maki 9. Wartovo Puara Jr 10. Dilbert Isaac 11. Nixon Put 12. Ila Alu 13. Rhadley Brawa; Reserves: 14. Gahuna Silas 15. Baundo Aba 16. Patrick Morea 17. Stanton Albert 18. William Mone.
Round 12 Fixtures: Sat, May 26 – Redcliffe Dolphins v CQ Capras, Burleigh Bears v Mackay Cutters, Northern Pride v Norths Devils; Sun, May 27 – Tweed Heads Seagulls v Sunshine Coast Falcons, PNG Hunters v Townsville Blackhawks, Souths Logan Magpies v Ipswich Jets, Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Easts Tigers.

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