The National Football Stadium came alive as hosts PNG Hunters defeated the Redcliffe Dolphins 22-18 in an entertaining affair as Hunters co-captain Noel Zeming put on a man of the match performance after being overlooked for the PNG Kumuls side.
The home side were first to strike with winger Stargroth Amean crossing over the line and Zeming converting.
However, both sides were guilty of handing errors and lazy penalties before the Dolphins hit back with their big forward Ruzon Nutira who burst his way to score. Darren Nicholls – who was yesterday named in the XXXX Queensland Residents team – converted to lock the scores at 6-6.
In a tight first half, this is how the scores remained going into the half-time break.
Just 10 minutes into first half, Hunters classy fullback Adex Wera scored for his side and while Zeming missed that conversion; he soon made up for it with a wonderful try of his own that came off the back of some good lead up by his forward pack. With this try, he made no mistake with the conversion for a 16-6 lead.
The Dolphins were back on the scoreboard when another big forward in Charlie Faingaa crossed over the line. Nicholls again converted, but the Hunters still maintained the lead 16-12 with 17 minutes remaining before full-time.
The 32°C heat of Port Moresby seemed to wear down the Dolphins as Zeming caught a kick and sprinted up 50m to score bringing the crowd to eruption as it gave their team some breathing space. With the try converted, the scores when out to 22-12 with four minutes to go.
However, Dolphins were not yet done as they scored in their next set thanks to fullback Luke Capewell. Nicholls made it a perfect three from three, and with just two minutes remaining – the visitors were running out of time to snatch a rare victory over the Hunters at home.
They made a last raid to the Hunters line and almost scored in the corner, but the Hunters defense held on to win 22-18 and lift the Stan Joyce Cup for the second consecutive time.
PNG HUNTERS 22 (Noel Zeming 2, Stargroth Amean, Adex Wera tries; Noel Zeming 3 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 18 (Rulon Nutira, Charlie Faingaa, Luke Capewell tries; Darren Nicholls 3 goals) at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.
Read all the Round 9 match wraps here:
Falcons bounce back in style v Devils
Tweed Heads outmuscle Capras
Tigers down Magpies in scrappy affair
Seagulls stun flat Pride
Bears and Blackhawks pay thrilling draw
Cutters comeback grounds the Jets