The PNG Hunters kept their unbeaten run at home at Kokopo this season intact with a close 24-22 win over the Easts Tigers yesterday.
In what is becoming a pattern, it was the boot of Noel Zeming that proved the difference in the end, with the Hunters leading point scorer slotting a penalty goal to snatch the win for his side.
It was also the first time PNG had defeated the Tigers – having lost two and drawn one match previously.
Things did not start well for the Hunters however, with former Kumul and in-form Tigers hooker Tommy Butterfield crossing under the posts for the first points of the match.
However, Zeming soon levelled the scores for the home side with a try before skipper Israel Eliab thrilled the crowd to claim the lead with an 80m run to the line.
Not to be outdone, the Tigers had the last laugh in the first half with a try from Jake Foster and a successful conversion for Shaun Nona giving the visitors a 12-10 lead at the halftime break.
They went on to extend their lead in the opening moments of the second half when big centre Shane Neumann proved too hard to handle in scoring his try. Another Nona conversion had the scores out to 18-10 in favour of the visitors.
One of their most dangerous players; rake Wartovo Puara got his Hunters side back in the game with a try after feeding the Tigers a dummy – before a break from Adex Wera led to a another four-pointer for the home side; handing them a 22-18 lead with 14 minutes to go in the match.
There was still plenty of drama left enjoy, and with 10 minutes to go until fulltime, a try to Easts winger Richie Kennar tied up proceedings; guaranteeing a thrilling finish.
With the clock winding down; neither side were able to cross their opposition’s line. The Hunters were handed a penalty with six minutes to go and Zeming stepped up to slot what would be the match-winning goal.
It was a good way for the Hunters to farewell their home base of Kalabond Oval this season, with their remaining two home games to be played in Port Moresby.
PNG HUNTERS 24 (Noel Zeming, Adex Wera, Israel Eliab, Wartovo Puara tries; Noel Zeming 4 goals) def EASTS TIGERS 22 (Shane Neumann, Richard Kennar, Tommy Butterfield, Jake Foster tries; Shaun Nona 3 goals) at Kalabond Oval, Kokopo.
1. Stargroth Amean 2. Oti Bland Tony 3. Noel Zeming 4. Lawrence Tu'u 5. Adex Wera 6. Israel Eliab (c) 8. Enock Maki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Brandy Peter 12. Kato Ottio 13. Timothy Lomai 14. Adam Korave 15. Atte Bina 16. Willie Minoga 17. Henry Noki 19. Roger Laka
1. Kevin Stephensen 2. Brandon Downey 3. Shane Neumann 4. Michael Kai 5. Richard Kennar 6. Shaun Nona 19. Brentt Warr 8. Foisa Peni 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Brenton Horwood 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Francis Tualau 15. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Dwayne Craft 17. Billy Walters