The Redcliffe Dolphins continued their dominant run into the finals, defeating the competition ladder leaders the PNG Hunters 28-12 at Dolphin Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides came out strongly in the first few minutes of the game, with a big hit put on Dolphins captain Sam Anderson just seconds into the game setting a combative tone for the rest of game.
However, it only took five minutes for Redcliffe to get points on the board, with centre Joseph Bradley scoring.
Dolphins second rower Troy Giess then muscled his way over the line in the 23rd minute, before Daniel Bridge got his own four-pointer in the 29th minute, giving the home side a 20-point lead at the main break.
Despite the one-sided score line, the match wasn’t all in favour of the Dolphins, with PNG playing fast, adlib footy that earnt them three repeat sets attacking the Phins line, without amounting to points on the board.
The second half started in a similar way to the first, with both sides coming out with something to prove.
Again the Dolphins were quick to find the try line and it took just two minutes into the second half for their second rower Myles Taulei to make his way to extend his team’s lead, before Tyson Gamble added the two points.
PNG were finally able to crack the Redcliffe defence in the 56th minute with fullback Stargroth Amean crossing the line, giving the away supporters something to cheer about.
He was over again soon after, crossing the line in the 61st minute with a strong individual play, before five-eighth Ase Boas successfully converted to narrow the scoring deficit.
The Dolphins however, proved too strong for the rest of the match, denying the Hunters any chance at completing a tough comeback.
“It was a really tough, gritty performance by the boys,” Dolphins coach Adam Mogg said.
“We knew what we were in for going up against PNG, but the boys were able to turn up and do their best.
“Our first 40 was pretty close to what we had hoped to execute before the game, and I thought we just lost our way in the second half a bit.”
Defensively, the Dolphins were almost faultless, something Mogg said the team worked hard on to achieve.
“It is a goal of ours every week to be really good defensively, we really pride ourselves on it, and I thought yesterday the boys did a really good job,” he said.
“With the amount of ball that they had ... I thought the boys did really well to hold them out for so long,” Mogg said.
Mogg was full of praise for his players that took the field yesterday, highlighting their efforts in turning up for each other.
“I don’t think any players stood out above the rest, it was a real team performance to get the result that we did.
“Shane Pumipi played really long minutes, which is really positive. Joe Bradley was another guy who played really well, coming back off an injury, against a high-quality centre in Israel Eliab,” Mogg said.
In Round 22, the Dolphins will head to Bishop Park to play the Norths Devils.
“It’s always a big game against Norths, it is a local derby so to speak,” Mogg said. “We’re just looking to focus on what we can control throughout the week, which is what we can do and what we need to improve on to win the game.
“We just take it week by week; all we can hope to do each week is improve on the areas where we might not have been as strong as we could be.”
The Hunters will head back to PNG to play the Ipswich Jets on Saturday for a 3pm kick off at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 28 (Joseph Bradley, Troy Giess, Daniel Bridge, Myles Taueli tries; Tyson Gamble 6 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 12 (Stargroth Amean 2 tries; Ase Boas 2 goals) at Dolphin Oval.