Falcons upset Hunters in PNG
The Sunshine Coast Falcons produced one of their best performances and created history in the process, becoming the first team to defeat the Hunters at home this season as they eliminated them from the finals with an 18-12 win.
The do-or-die match began as an entertaining and quality affair as both sides produced strong defence and big collisions.
The visitors were the first to score in the 19th minute through halfback Ryley Jacks who stepped past defenders to score after a loose ball from Hunters forward Enock Maki gave them possession. Joe Stimson converted the try to give his side an early 6-0 lead.
The Hunters were on attack after a drop ball from the Falcons, only for Jacks to make a try-saving tackle on a rampaging Justin Olam just inches away from the try line.
However, the Hunters were on attack again with just five minutes before halftime and this time it was a success, with winger Butler Morris scoring off an Ase Boas grubber kick. Noel Zeming missed the conversion and the Falcons led 6-4.
The second half began with the Hunters on attack again after an error from the Falcons gave them possession.
They launched a last-minute attack on the Falcons try line, but the defence was like a brick wall as Jacks made another try saving play, catching the ball on his try line after a short kick from the Hunters, allowing the visitors to take a 6-4 lead into the halftime break.
The second half begin in a tight affair as the Falcons forwards led by Tui Kamikamica and Mark Nicolls stood up to match the Hunters forward pack led by Esau Siune, Maki and Brandy Peter.
A Hunters error in their own territory gave the visitors possession and they made it count, scoring first in the second half via winger Samuel Wright after some good backline movement.
The Falcons were not done yet and this time it was interchange forward Jye Ballinger who found an opening through the lazy Hunters defenders before offloading to Alex Bishop who attracted the fullback before sending an unmarked Jacks in to score his second, despite some PNG protests about the pass.
The home side hit back in the 66-minute mark with Morris crossing for his second try after a loose ball from the Falcons gave them opportunity.
Winger Stargroth Amean ran across the field before knocking the ball backwards for Morris to scoop up to score.
As it went to the final 10 minutes the pressure and frustration started to build up as the Hunters were penalised 20m from their own line. The Falcons opted to kick a penalty goal with Stimson successful in his attempt.
The Hunters produced a short kick-off and tall fullback Bland Abavu soared above everyone to offload it to Morris who ran away for score his hat-trick.
Ase Boas misses the conversion kick with two minutes before fulltime, meaning the Hunters were unable to convert any of their three tries.
The Falcons defence was strong and they made the Hunters work from their own territory up and forced mistakes as they defended their way to victory.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 18 (Ryley Jacks 2, Samuel Wright tries; Joe Stimson 3 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 12 (Butler Morris 3 tries) at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.