Next four crucial for Hunters

The National,Wednesday June 22nd, 2016

THE SP Papua New Guinea Hunters’ next four Intrust Super Cup matches shape to be the most important regular season clashes for Michael Marum’s men.
The four away matches, punctuated by a bye in Round 18, will be crucial to the South Pacific Brewery-sponsored side’s hopes of clinching a top five spot.
They play the Norths Devils (Rd 16), Tweed Heads Seagulls (Rd 17), Redcliffe Dolphins (Rd 19) and the Easts Tigers (Rd 20).
Of the four clashes, two are against top five sides in the Dolphins (2nd) and Tigers (5th).
This represents eight points and with the bye 10 which would see the Noel Zeming-Adam Korave captained side entrenched in the top five heading into the last five rounds of the competition.
Three of the last five matches are at home while the two are tough road trips to Townsville and Cairns to play the Blackhawks and Northern Pride.
Currently on third spot with 22 points from 10 wins from 14 games including a bye, the Hunters form on the road has been an issue with the team winning three of seven on the road so far in 2016.
On the road they beat the Souths Logan Magpies 36-18 in the opening round, Wynnum Manly (Rd 2, 24-10) and the Mackay Cutters (Rd 5, 34-20) but lost to the Sunshine Coast Falcons (Rd 4, 28-20), Burleigh Bears (Rd 8, 20-18), CQ Capras (Rd 11, 27-20) and the Ipswich Jets (Rd 12, 30-12).
While the Hunters are close to unbeatable at home having won all seven home games including last Sunday’s 18-4 victory over Wynnum Manly, they have struggled to beat even lower placed teams in the Q-Cup.
This weekend’s Round 16 clash against the 10th placed Devils, who are coming off a 40-24 over the Capras, sees the Hunters desperate to get their Queensland tour off to a winning start at Bishop Park in Brisbane.
The Hunters have been competitive in all their away encounters but have failed to grab the initiative in the close battles – the loss to the Bears and the Capras were winnable.
The Hunters beat the Devils 38-22 in an entertaining fixture in Round 7 at the National Football Stadium and facing them at home with their tails up and possibly including Brisbane Broncos squad members Lachlan Maranta, Jai Arrow, Todd Murphy and Francis Molo will be a tough ask.