Amidst the muggy Sunday atmosphere in Brisbane bayside, the PNG Hunters outplayed the Wynnum Manly Seagulls to record their first ever victory at BMD Kougari Oval.
The Seagulls dominated the early minutes in everything but the scoreboard, moving up the field effectively, but were unable to deliver the four-point strike. This would prove to be the theme of the day for the Seagulls, whose attack would culminate in only 10 points by the afternoon’s end.
In stark contrast, 14-minutes in, the Hunters capitalised on their first trip inside the opponents’ red-zone, a face-ball delivered from two metres out finding a rampaging Ishamel Baikawa who crashed in under the sticks for first points.
PNG wouldn’t have to wait long for their next opportunity, with the ensuing kick-off by Patrick Templeman catching the bayside breeze and sailing well over the dead-ball line. This re-opened the door for the visitors, who worked themselves into position to perform a sweeping back-line movement that put winger Oti Tony over in the corner.
Wynnum Manly would look dangerous a numbers of times in retaliation, including a 45m scamper from fullback Daniel Ogden in the 25th minute. But the scoring opportunity would again be squandered after a miscommunicated exchange between Seagulls halfback Matt Seamark and prop Magnus Stromquist.
The lull of excitement was short lived, PNG using the subsequent scrum to send Tony flying down the wing only to be stopped by the desperate cover defence by Ogden, Alex Barr and eventually centre Mitchell Buckett who would come up with the ball on a one-on-one strip two tackles later.
The home-side would again find themselves in attacking position, but both errors and now the wind-conditions would continue to slam the breaks on all offensive opportunities for the ‘Gulls.
PNG sent a message in the dying moments of the first half, refusing a seemingly easy two-point penalty kick that would have extended the lead to two-converted tries.
This decision proved profitable with PNG utilising the final minute to orchestrate a set of six that finished with a blindside play that put fullback Stargroth Amean over in the left-hand corner on the stroke of halftime.
Wynnum Manly would need to be the first team to score in the second half to get back in the game and did exactly that in the 48th minute, with Buckett muscling his way over to finish a backline move.
Right when the PNG Hunters looked like they were finally succumbing to the temperature, a Seagulls mistake at halfway saw them launch another attacking raid down the left side of the defence that had Thompson Teteh painfully close to scoring.
The weather played a factor on both sides in the mid-stages of the second half, with the error and penalty count rising for both sides. Captain Noel Zemming opted to take a penalty shot in the 62nd minute, seemingly to give his side a chance to breathe in the 89% humidity.
Wynnum look to again cut into the lead in the 66th minute through another set move down the left hand side, but it would result in a penalty after Tim Natusch was deemed to obstruct Stargroth Amean.
This would prove costly as Justin Olam would score on the next set, soccering-ahead a Wartovo Puara fifth-tackle grubber for a try, continuing his fantastic start to his debut season and extending the score to 24-4 after a successful Zemming conversion.
Templeman would close the scoring for the day, slipping through in the 70th minute on the back of an impressive set by the Seagulls forwards, a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating performance by the home side.
The Wynnum Manly Seagulls will look to avoid going 0-3 at BMD Kougari Oval next week, when they take on the Redcliffe Dolphins, also in search of their first victory.
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PNG HUNTERS 24 (Ishamel Baikawa, Oti Tony, Stargroth Amean, Justin Olam tries; Noel Zeming 4 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 10 (Mitchell Buckett, Patrick Templeman tries; Mathew Seamark goal) at BMD Kougari Oval.
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Townsville down Jets to stay unbeaten
Bears beat Gulls to top the ladder
Norths hold on against the Capras
Bowen stars in Pride’s win v Cutters
Young Magpies upset Phins