File photo: Action from a PNG Hunters game at Kalabond Oval earlier this year.
THE PNG Hunters have returned to the winners circle following a hard-fought 25-24 victory over the Sunshine Coast Falcons at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo, yesterday.
It was a decisive field goal from captain Israel Eliab – his second of the season – with just under two minutes left on the game clock to break the deadlock and the hearts of the Falcons in their Round 20 clash.
The Hunters put an 18-6 lead on the Falcons in the first half which was reduced to 18-12 at half-time.
Captain Eliab, who took over the kicking duties slotted all four goals and played an important role in the Adex Wera try by throwing the last pass when he turned the ball inside to send his winger racing away for a 40m try.
Then he broke the stalemate with his field goal following an earlier unsuccessful attempt by five-eighth Dion Aiye to put the smiles back on the faces of their many passionate fans.
Aiye scored one of the four Hunters tries while centre Jason Tali, recently drafted into the squad, proved he is cut out for this level of Australia’s second-tier competition with a double.
The victory put the Hunters back to the winners’ list after dropping their last four games and keeps them in touch for a top five spot as they move to 23 points on the Intrust Super Cup points table.
The Falcons also scored four tries following on from last week’s 26-24 upset win over the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Tries to fullback Sam Wright, winger Paul McKewin, second rower Rueben Baillie and interchange player Jay Lobwein, and three goals from captain Ryan Hansen and another two points from five-eighth Brett Doherty, almost gave the Falcons a drawn match.
The Hunters now have three matches in a row at Kalabond Stadium and are certain to gain much needed confidence from the win as they head into next Saturday’s important match against the Burleigh Bears.
PNG HUNTERS 25 (Jason Tali 2, Adex Wera, Dion Aiye tries; Israel Eliab 4 goals; Israel Eliab field goal) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 24 (Sam Wright, Paul McKewin, Rueben Baillie, Jay Lobwein tries; Ryan Hansen 3, Brett Doherty goals) at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo.
PNG Hunters: 1. Israel Eliab (c) 2. Garry Lo 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Jason Tali 5. Adex Wera 6. Dion Aiye 7. Roger Laka 8. Timothy Lomai 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. David Loko 12. Sebastian Pandia 13. Adam Korave 14. Noel Zemming 15. Willie Minoga 16. Albert Patak 17. Stanton Albert
Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Sam Wright 2. Joe Meninga 3. Rowan Klein 4. Callum Klein 5. Paul McKewin 6. Brett Doherty 7. Tom Murphy 8. Mboya Adams 9. Matt Gilliman 10. Ryan Hansen (c) 11. Jaz Nahu-Main 12. Rueben Baillie 13. Jacob Samoa 14. Jay Lobwein 15. James Leavai 16. Kyle Van Klaveren 17. Mitch Ebdon