The SP PNG Hunters Head coach Stanly Tepend expressed disappointed with his side’s loss after the team couldn’t overcome an impressive Northern Pride outfit on over the weekend, falling short 34-14 at Barlow Park, Cairns in Round 5 of the QRL Hostplus Cup.
As they have done in almost every game this season, the Hunters successfully defended their try line in the opening stages. The Pride enjoyed back-to-back attacking sets courtesy of some Hunters ill-discipline but couldn’t find a way through the PNG defence.
Taking confidence from their resilience without the ball, the Hunters charged upfield themselves to find easy metres around the ruck. Pride did well to contain PNG’s fifth tackle options through, and the game quickly settled into a grind. Just as the Hunters began looking for someone to swing the momentum, halfback Judah Rimbu faked to kick on the last tackle before quickly swinging the ball to the right edge.
Rodrick Tai was his target, and the strike centre made the most of Rimbu’s eyes-up play to burn his opposite man, streak down the touchline and score in the corner.
For all their skill in attack, the Hunters ill-discipline in defense continued to make it too easy for the Pride. Six-again infringements and yardage penalties allowed the home side an easy route to the Hunters try line. It looked like PNG had stopped the flow of points at 18-4, but a stroke of luck right on halftime saw Lui bag his second when he charged down a Sakias Komati kick to score under the posts.
The territorial pressure eventually drew a penalty for a high shot on Rimbu, and his halves partner Komati sliced through to score just two tackles later. The Hunters had all the momentum and looked like reducing the 14-point lead further, until Pride winger Rhy Young crossed in the 59th minute against the run of play.
A perfectly weighted cross-field kick found Young in space out wide, taking the score to 28-10 in the final quarter. Starting down a three-score deficit, the Hunters began throwing caution to the wind.
They had some luck in yardage by moving the ball to the edges but the home side stayed resilient, eventually forcing errors with their defense. SP PNG Hunters Head Coach Stanley Tepend was disappointed with his side’s performance.
“The boys are hurting,” said Tepend.
“That was a really disappointing performance from us today.”
“That was a winnable game for us but we’ve got to be more disciplined.”
“We know we’re a talented side but you don’t need talent to get back onside or hold the ball.”
“We didn’t get the basics right.”
With a quick turn-around this week before facing the Bears at Burleigh next Saturday, Tepend said there is plenty of work to be done.
“We’ll have a look at ourselves and where we can improve before next week.”
“It’s a tough game coming up but that’s what this competition is all about – turning up each week.”