Adex Wera crossed for a hat-trick as the PNG Hunters recorded their second successive win in the 2015 Intrust Super Cup yesterday.
The Hunters beat Redcliffe Dolphins 30-26 at Kalabond Oval in a game that went down to the wire with the home side holding on with some desperate defence.
Wera, returning from a left wrist injury in a man-of-the-match performance, gave coach Michael Marum a selection headache as his backline depth increases in quality.
Picked at centre, Wera played a blinder, scoring at crucial stages of the match to put the Hunters in command against a committed Dolphins outfit which never went away.
The Dolphins, now without a win in three appearances against the Hunters’, wanted the game badly. They used their big forwards to punch up the middle, among them Martin Cordwell, try-scorer Tristan Lumley and Ajuma Adams.
Evander Cummins was among the best for the visitors, scoring a double and keeping his side in the race for the two premiership points on offer.
After an arm-wrestle for the lead in the opening half, at one stage the Dolphins were in front 12-10. However, the Hunters went to the break with a 20-12 advantage.
The Hunters’ first stanza tries were scored by Wera, Teteh and fullback Stargroth Amean.
The dry conditions was a welcome change to the rain that had been a regular feature of the weather during the days leading up to yesterday’s match.
Just four minutes into the second half, Aaron Whitchurch struck on the left side with a try that reduced the deficit to 20-16.
Marum had also told his side to lift their efforts in defence at the break and after a scrum win within their red zone, Wera broke free to score a 90m runaway try.
Laka converted for a seemingly safe 26-16 scoreline but when Cummins crossed and Luke Capewell raised the flags, the game was thrown open once again.
Eight minutes on the clock was still enough time to wrestle the match off the Hunters, despite Amean scoring after the ball moved through quick hands.
That 30-22 lead was threatened once again when the Dolphins scored an unconverted try through interchange player Darcy Etrich.
The Dolphins launched continuous raids on the Hunters try-line but the home side just refused to allow the visitors over with some relentless defence to hold them off.
PNG HUNTERS 30 (Adex Wera 3, Stargroth Amean 2, Thompson Teteh tries; Roger Laka 3 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 26 (Evander Cummins 2, Aaron Whitchurch, Darcy Etrich, Tristan Lumley tries; Luke Capewell 3 goals) at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo.
PNG Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. David Lapua 3. Adex Wera 4. Kato Ottio 5. Edward Goma 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Roger Laka 8. Enock Maki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Willie Minoga 12. Brandy Peter 13. Adam Korave 14. Ase Boas 16. Atte Bina 17. Oti Bland Tony 15. Thompson Teteh
Redcliffe Dolphins: 1. Josh Beehag 2. Oliver Regan 3. Josh Benjamin 4. Tom Opacic 22. Aaron Whitchurch 6. Evander Cummins 7. Luke Capewell (c) 8. Tom Geraghty 21. Shane Pumipi 10. Harley Aiono 11. Ajuma Adams 12. Tristan Lumley 13. Trent Richardson 14. Darcy Etrich 15. Martin Cordwell 16. Anthony Cherrington 17. Reggie Saunders