Pride stun Hunters early
with Jacob Grams, The Cairns Post
The Northern Pride defied the punters to open their 2018 account with a 26-14 win over PNG Hunters at Barlow Park.
Despite missing four of their best including Todd Carney in the Round 2 Intrust Super Cup match on Saturday night, the home side raced to an 18-0 lead shortly after halftime before surviving an attempted comeback from the visitors.
Both sides made multiple errors in a sloppy opening 20 minutes, but the Pride spent much of it camped on the attack after Hunters fullback Adex Wera twice fumbled cleaning up grubber kicks.
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Pride winger Shawn Bowen scored the first of his two tries for the evening out wide, but his second came following a scrambling play where the Hunters were unable to properly clean up the ball out the back following a Pride 40/20 attempt.
Two successful conversions from half Jake Clifford and a successful penalty goal meant the home side had a 14-0 halftime lead over the defending premiers.
Young Queensland representative Murry Taulagi extended the lead for the Pride shortly after the break, and it wasn’t until the Charlie Simon burrowed over the 54th minute that the Hunters had any joy on the scoreboard.
Ase Boas missed the conversion, but he was the next to score – dancing his way through the defence to narrow the scores.
Nathan Wales got his side back on track when he ran through for a try – but the Hunters went in once more with six minutes left in the game when winger Butler Morris scored.
Boas again missed the conversion – but there was no such trouble for Clifford when he lined up his second penalty goal attempt in the 77th minute – slotting that to hand his side the 26-14 win.
Next week, the Pride will travel to Townsville to play the Blackhawks in XXXX Rivalry Round, while the Hunters will head to the Sunshine Coast for a grand final rematch against the Falcons.
NORTHERN PRIDE 26 (Shawn Bowen 2, Murray Taulagi, Nathan Wales tries; Jake Clifford 5 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 14 (Charlie Simon, Ase Boas, Butler Morris tries; Ase Boas goal) at Barlow Park.