Stanton Albert marked his return to the PNG Hunters with a key try to get his side a win over the Townsville Blackhawks in Round 12 of the Intrust Super Cup.
Albert had travelled to the UK with brother Wellington to join the Widnes club; but returned home to PNG last week and was called into the side by coach Michael Marum to help his side in the forwards.
It was the battle of the forwards with both sides throwing plenty at each other, with the Hunters led by Enock Maki and the consistent Rahdly Brawa. However, they were matched by Blackhawks Rod Griffin and Jake Marketo up front to add to the tense contest.
The visitors were on the board first through centre Ty Carucci who crossed after an impressive backline play in the 15-minute mark. Crucially, the conversion was unsuccessful and those were the only points scored in the first half and the arm wrestle continued.
The Hunters were able to hit back just after the halftime break with winger Junior Rau scoring in the corner, bringing momentum back to the home side. This conversion was successful by Watson Boas who stepped up in place of brother Ase (who was a late omission from the team) to take the kick.
With just under 15 minutes left to play, both sides were struggling to shake each other, but the home fans were cheering loudly as Albert powered his way over to score the key try and Boas was again successful in adding two more points.
There is too much firepower in the Townsville team to hold them to just one try – but they were not able to crack the defensive line of the Hunters again until the 79th minute when winger Kalifa Faifai Loa added to his season tally.
Next week, the Blackhawks head to Rockhampton to play the Capras, while the Hunters will travel to take on a rejuvenated Easts Tigers outfit.
PNG HUNTERS 12 (Junior Rau, Stanton Albert tries; Watson Boas 2 goals) def TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 8 (Ty Carucci, Kalifa Faifai-Loa tries) at Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.
Photo: Stanton Albert with the Hunters in the Intrust Super Championship national final in 2017. FILE IMAGE
*Levington Melvin Levongo is a QRL correspondent covering the PNG Hunters