SP PNG Hunters showcased their on-field enthusiasm and intensity before being run down by Sunshine Coast Falcons in a 26-12 Intrust Super Cup loss at Sunshine Coast Stadium today.
The Hunters’ first half was among its best in this challenging season of COVID restrictions as forward Benji Kot scored two tries to propel the visitors to a 10-0 lead at the break.
This was the energy that coach Matt Church had been seeking from a team that has battled injury, illness and the difficulties of living away from Papua New Guinea throughout the year to ensure the Hunters can take their place in the competition.
But they were unable to withstand the Falcons’ fightback as the Intrust Super Cup’s Rivalry Round threw up another fascinating clash between the 2017 grand finalists.
The Falcons scored in the first minute of the second half after making the most of a quick penalty before veteran halfback Todd Murphy landed all four conversions and a penalty goal to drive the home team.
The match reached a key point at 12-all when Joe Joshua crossed for the Hunters, only for the try to be disallowed.
That would have provided the Hunters with a valuable edge as they tried to make up for an ankle injury to decorated hooker Wartovo Puara Jnr that affected the visitors’ chances of holding out the Falcons.
Puara left the field eight minutes into the second half however he was able to return in the final minutes in a positive sign for the Hunters as they seek stability in the final two months of the regular season.
“We were pleased that Wartovo could go back on because the injury didn’t look great to start with but he’s a tough player and he’s very important for us on the field,” Church said.