Top six hopes alive

Sports

A TOP six finals berth is still in the reckoning as the SP PNG Hunters take on the Northern Pride on Sunday.
The round 18 fixture at the National Football Stadium pits the 11th placed Hunters (on 16 points, -40) against the fourth-placed Cairns side.
The hosts are just two points adrift of sixth spot currently occupied by the Souths Logan Magpies (18pts, +51) but between coach Michael Marum’s men and a chance to defend the title they won last year sits the Wests Tigers (7th on 18pts, + 25), Ipswich Jets (8th on 18pts, +4), Tweed Heads (9th on 18pts, -81) and Sunshine Coast Falcons (10th on 16pts, -3).
The run home in the regular season, which comprises seven games, sees the Hunters face the Pride this weekend followed by the Norths Devils, Burleigh Bears, Souths Logan Magpies, Tweed Heads Seagulls, Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Central Queensland Capras.
Four of those games are at home — Pride, Devils, Bears and Wynnum — while two of the three away games are against sides above the Hunters – Magpies (6th) and Tweed Heads (9th).
Coach Marum said last week’s loss to the Redcliffe Dolphins was a tough one for the team to take but they would pick up and look to put on a more complete performance against the Pride, who beat them (26-14 in Rd 2) earlier in the season.
“That was a tough loss for us but we have to come back and get on with the job,” Marum said.
“We had opportunities against Redcliffe but we just didn’t execute. We can still make the finals. There’s only two points separating us from sixth spot so we just have to win games and go from there.”
The side named on Tuesday will remain the same however prop Stanton Albert is working on overcoming a sore knee. Marum said if Albert was unable to play then prop Dilbert Isaac would come into the front row off the extended bench while 18th man Baundo Aba or McKenzie Yei would get a bench spot.
Marum will persist with a bench that has a 3-1 split of backs to forwards. Ball player Charlie Simon maintains the top bench spot while utilities Adex Wera and Wawa Paul are the other backs on the pine with Aba or Yei the sole forward.
The round 15 Digicel Cup midday match between the Port Moresby Vipers and Gulf Isou will be the curtain raiser to the Q-Cup fixture which kicks off at 3pm.
SP Hunters: 1. Edene Gabbie 2. Junior Rau 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Willie Minoga 5. Brendon Gotuno 6. Ase Boas (c) 7. Watson Boas 8. Enoch Maki 9. Wartovo Puara Jr 10. Stanton Albert 11. Nixon Put 12. Rhadley Brawa 13. Moses Meninga; Interchange: 14. Charlie Simon 15. Wawa Paul 16. Adex Wera 17. Dilbert Isaac 18. Baundo Aba 19. Gahuna Silas 20. Butler Morris.
Rd 18 Fixtures: Sat, July 14 – Dolphins v Bears, Devils v Capras, Blackhawks v Jets, Cutters v Tigers; Sun, July 15 – TH Seagulls v Magpies, Hunters v Pride, Falcons v WM Seagulls.

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