Cutters ground PNG Hunters
A hard onslaught was expected for the Cutters this week as the PNG Hunters headed to Stadium Mackay for the very first time.
The wet weather forced both sides to gruel through the mud and rain, with the Cutters aiming to climb out of their third last position in the Intrust Super Cup.
Despite the determination of Mackay, the Hunters were not about to sacrifice their reputation without a fight. Putting immense pressure on their opponents, the physical size and power of PNG's front liners – Sebastian Pandia, Wartovo Puara and Esau Siune – easily matched that of the Cutters front three of Sam Hoare, Anthony Mitchell and Karl Davies.
With physical strength looking equal, it was the Cutters ability to out-think their opponents that resulted in their roaring 20- 4 victory.
Stepping off the plane just two hours before the game was due to start, the PNG Hunters had to take this disadvantage in their stride.
Only three minutes into the first half however, their winger Garry Lo limped off the field, a shaky beginning for a team that usually powers off the start line. Fifteen minutes later, the Hunters lost Pandia to injury.
The rest of the half only went further downhill for PNG, with Cutters winger and captain Liam Taylor scoring the first four pointer of the game after being on the end of swift offloads from Chris Gesch and Doug Hewitt.
Wrapping up the first half for the Cutters, Mitch Day slipped through the gap scoring another four pointer for the defending premiers to lead 10- at the break.
The second half went off with a bang with both sides showing even more brutality than the first half. The Cutters proved they were on their game with Taylor scoring his second try of the match out wide. The score sat at 14-0 with just half an hour of play left.
Determined not to leave without making a mark on the scoreboard, Hunter George Benson was able to force his way through Mackay's seemingly rock solid defence, scoring with 16 minutes left in the game - but this would not be the last try of the night.
Four minutes remained on the clock when the Cutters truly claimed the victory. Mackay's hooker Anthony Mitchell scored out of dummy half, diving beneath the goalposts and leaving the final score at 20-4.
Cutters Coach Kim Williams was impressed with his team's defensive effort.
"It was one of the best defensive efforts I've seen in my time here. Most teams play the Hunters and expect to come out second best in the physical side of it, but I think we muscled up and dominated them very strongly," Williams said.
The PNG Hunters Coach Michael Marum was disappointed with the loss but thought Mackay's win was well deserved.
"We lost three or four players in the first half, which I think changed the game around, our guys still defended well though, but full credit to the Cutters," Marum said.
You can watch the highlight of the game here: Highlights Cutters v PNG
MACKAY CUTTERS 20 (Liam Taylor 2, Anthony Mitchell, Mitch Day tries; Liam Taylor 2 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 4 (George Benson try) at Stadium Mackay.
Mackay Cutters: 1. Zac Santo 2. Liam Taylor (c) 3. Curtis Rona 4. Josh Benjamin 5. Justin Tavae 6. Doug Hewitt 7. Brent Warr 8. Sam Hoare 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Karl Davies 11. Rohan Ahern 12. Chris Gesch 13. Jason Schirnack 14. Kelvin Nielsen 15. John Asiata 16. Josh Osborne 17. Mitch Day
PNG Hunters: 1. Adex Wera 2. Garry Lo 3. Noel Zemming 4. Thompson Teteh 5. Edward Goma 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Roger Laka 8. Sebastian Pandia 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. George Benson 12. David Loko 13. Adam Korave 14. Timothy Lomai 15. Willie Minoga 16. Lawrence Tu'u 17. Brandy Peter