The Essential Coffee Burleigh Bears went down 42-6 after running into a red-hot PNG Hunters at Pizzey Park on Sunday.
The Hunters, who have been known for their flair and unpredictability in recent years, turned in a near flawless performance on Sunday where execution, efficiency and control were the features.
They piled pressure on the Bears all afternoon by completing all but two of their sets and executing exceptional kick and chase time and again.
They were patient, and the results came in a 15-minute burst between the 49th and 64th minutes where they scored four tries in succession and put the result out of Burleigh’s reach.
It was a bucket of cold water for a Bears side that was starting to find confidence after two good wins in their last two starts.
“I think it’s just a continual lesson for where we’re at, especially for our younger players,” Bears coach Jim Lenihan said.
“They certainly had a lot of momentum and we struggled to control that. I think it was more about us learning how to deal with week-in, week-out footy and dealing with dramas when things don’t go our way.”
Burleigh got away to the perfect start when Kurtis Rowe sliced through on the left and ran 30m to score the opening try in just the third minute.
The Bears made another break on the left with their next possession and looked to have all the running early, but some ill-discipline helped turn the game in PNG’s favour.
In the 10th minute, the Bears piggy-backed the Hunters out of their end with a penalty and PNG responded with Ase Boas turning it inside for Adex Wera who levelled the scores.
Six minutes later it was an instant replay, as the Bears gave away a penalty gifting the Hunters field position, which they again took advantage of through Boas and Wera.
This time it was a perfectly weighted kick which Wera won the race to and put down in spectacular fashion.
A penalty goal on the stroke of halftime gave PNG a handy eight-point lead, but the Bears were still in it at the break.
Burleigh had completed all but one set in the first half and the door was still open for a comeback. PNG however slammed the door shut with a brilliant second stanza.
They controlled possession exceptionally well, and as the pressure mounted they started picking off the Burleigh defence.
Wartovo Puara scored an opportunistic try out of dummy half in the 49th minute to get the ball rolling and it was all Hunters from there.
Wera bagged his third try of the day in the 56th minute after his inside men put him into some space out the back, and then in the 60th he made it four by cutting back on the inside and beating several fatigued Burleigh defenders.
In the 63rd minute, Boas provided David Loko with a brilliant short-ball and suddenly it was 38-6.
The Bears finally got some possession in the minutes after that, but they were forced into catch-up football and couldn’t break through the PNG defence.
The Hunters closed out the game when Karo Kauna Jr borrowed over into the corner to make it 42-unanswered points on a day to remember for the Hunters.
Post-game the fourth annual Kokoda Cup was presented to the Hunters with the ledger now standing at 2-2 for this fixture.
Bears prop Luke Page was presented with a special award in the dressing sheds by representatives of the Kokoda Army Barracks for being the player who best demonstrated the Army Core Values of courage, initiative, teamwork and respect thanks to another typically tireless and inspiring performance in the middle.
PNG HUNTERS 42 (Adex Wera 4, Wartovo Puara, David Loko, Karo Kauna Jnr tries; Ase Boas 7 goals) def BURLEIGH BEARS 6 (Kurtis Rowe try; Keanu Te Kiri goal) at Pizzey Park.