The accurate kicking boot of Noel Zeming helped his side the PNG Hunters to a hard-fought 32-24 win over the Tweed Heads Seagulls at Piggabeen Sports yesterday.
In a close but high-scoring game that had moments of exciting football on display, both sides crossed for five tries apiece; with Zeming’s six goals from seven attempts – bringing up his 200 points for the Hunters in the process – proving crucial in the final wash-up.
The Seagulls however trialled four different goal kickers after Blake Anderson suffered an injury early in the match that prevented him from attempting the conversions. Kalifa Faifai-Loa, Sam Meskell, Ricardo Parata and Ali Grant were all given a chance, with Meskell the only one to put the ball over the sticks.
The visiting Hunters started the game well to post the first try via a dart from dummy half from Wartovo Puara, before the Seagulls levelled the scores (and not for the first time in the afternoon) with a try of their own to Leva Li who capitalised on a PNG error.
A try to Brandy Peter and a penalty goal saw the Hunters extend their lead to 14-6; but a four-pointer to Gulls winger Nat Barnes (his 100th for Tweed and his 127th overall) saw the scores go to 14-10 at the break.
The fans were treated to an exciting second half with the first try after the break coming in unusual fashion.
Seagulls Shaun Carney came up with a spectacular try from the kick off to level the scores to 14-14 and the see-sawing match nature of the match continued.
Looking for their eighth win in a row, the Hunters proved they were not going to be beaten easily and posted back-to-back tries to stretch their lead to 24-14.
Li got his double to push Tweed Heads closer at 24-18, and with more than 20 minutes remaining in the match – there was time left for still more twists and turns.
The Seagulls were able to draw the scores level one more time with 13 minutes left on the clock when fullback Grant scored his second try in as many matches – this one being deemed a possible eight-point try. Meskell’s first conversion attempt missed, but his second from right in front ensured a 24-24 scoreline.
In the end however, the try-scoring ended as it had begun, with Wartovo over the line for the Hunters to put the match beyond the reach of the Gulls, while a late penalty goal from Zeming was icing on the cake for the PNG side.
PNG HUNTERS 32 (Wartovo Puara 2, Ase Boas, Brandy Peter, Warren Glare tries; Noel Zeming 6 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 24 (Leva Li 2, Ali Grant, Nathanael Barnes, Shaun Carney tries; Blake Anderson, Sam Meskell goals) at Piggabeen Sports.
Tweed Heads Seagulls: 1. Ali Grant 2. Nathanael Barnes 3. Blake Anderson 4/19. Kalifa Faifai-Loa 5. Leva Li 6. Ricardo Parata 7. Shaun Carney 8. Damian Sironen (c) 9. Sam Meskell 10. Oliver Percy 11. Caleb Binge 12. Dane Clarke 13. Sam Saville 14. Karl Lawton 15. Jai Ingram 16. Matt White 17. Will Bugden
PNG Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Oti Bland Tony 3. Noel Zeming 18. Thompson Teteh 5. Adex Wera 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Ase Boas 8. Henry Noki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Brandy Peter 13. Adam Korave 14. Warren Glare 20. Timothy Lomai 16. Willie Minoga 17. Enock Maki 19. Atte Bina