The Redcliffe Dolphins overcame a spirited PNG Hunters side at home to claim their fourth victory in a row, winning 20-6.
The Hunters had come to Dolphin Stadium with a point to prove; starting the game by moving the ball quickly in attack, while fronting up in defence.
However, it was the Dolphins who got on the board first after a penalty conversion by Kotoni Staggs in the 4th minute.
This didn’t stop the Hunters relentless attack, and they managed to find a gap in the line in the 9th minute after a grubber from hooker Wartovo Puara sent rookie winger Junior Rau in for their first points of the game.
The Dolphins, who seemed a little rattled by the Hunters fast start early, managed to maintain their composure.
It wasn’t until the 31st minute that the Dolphins scored their first try of the game thanks to second rower Scott Schulte, off a short ball from the hooker, Sheldon Pitama.
Redcliffe captain Cameron Cullen then regained the lead in the 36th minute with his try, giving the home side a 14-6 advantage at the break.
While the Hunters were fast starters in the first half, the Dolphins maintained their momentum after the break, when fullback Tony Tumusa continued his try-scoring form and scooted over the line in the 47th minute from dummy half.
Despite being pleased with his team’s defence throughout the evening, ball control was something that Mogg said the Dolphins clearly needed to work on throughout the middle of the game.
“We trained really well during the week. We were obviously pretty disappointed with the control of the footy, but defensively I thought we were good,” Mogg said.
“I think we’ve got a bit to work on with the footy clearly, I know we scored 20 points, our completion rate was really low but our effort and defence I’m really happy with.”
The Hunters were giving Redcliffe plenty to contend with all game and gave themselves a number of opportunities to score out wide during the second half and were happy to chance their arm.
With four minutes to go – they tried kicking on the first tackle, turning the play into a foot race between Dolphins fullback Tumusa and their wingers, but they couldn’t nab themselves another try.
It remained a heated game right down to the last few seconds, with the frustrations of both sides reaching its tipping point just before full time.
“I really thought that they (the Hunters) came to play tonight, they were really physical, so it was a really, really good game of footy,” Mogg said.
“PNG are obviously a fantastic team, and if you don’t get the defensive part right then you’re no chance.”
While it remains early in the season, Mogg knows his team still has some room to improve before September comes.
“Our focus is just to take each game as they come, trying to improve and I thought we improved defensively tonight.”
Next weekend the Dolphins take on the Cutters in Mackay, while the Hunters play Souths Logan Magpies in Port Moresby.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 20 (Scott Schulte, Cameron Cullen, Tony Tumusa tries; Kotoni Staggs 4 goals) def PNG HUNTERS 6 (Junior Rau try; Paul Bobby Jnr goal) at Dolphin Stadium.
Photo: Sheldon Pitama with the ball for Redcliffe in Round 1. FILE IMAGE
*Emily Clooney is a QRL correspondent covering the Redcliffe Dolphins