Ase fights dengue fever as PNG finds form
Are the drums beating for the PNG Hunters to surge into Intrust Super Cup finals contention?
That was the question after Papua New Guinea's favourite sons recorded their fourth win of their past five games with a 26-12 victory against the Mackay Cutters.
All year, those close to the defending premiers have been saying they would improve as the season wore on, with a significant turnover of playing personnel disrupting their start to the 2018 campaign.
Sunday's clash against the Cutters at Oil Search National Football Stadium saw PNG never headed after scoring first via centre Thompson Teteh from a Watson Boas pass and going on with the job.
The home side had all the momentum and ball possession and forward partners Enoch Maki and Stanton Albert set the platform for their side.
The Hunters went further in front through Watson Boas after a grubber kick by Wartovo Puara Jnr; and scored their third try of the first half when fullback Adex Wera broke a tackle and sprinted 70m to go over.
At halftime the score was 20-6 in favour of the Hunters, with Jayden Hodges going over for the Cutters.
The ladder now shows the Hunters in ninth spot, narrowly held out of the top eight on for-and-against by the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Their last four games have seen the Hunters beat Mackay, Townsville, Central Queensland and Wynnum Manly, interrupted by a 30-12 loss to Easts.
While cynics may point out that the Cutters, Capras and Seagulls occupy the bottom three places on the table, Townsville is one of the premiership favourites.
Making matters more impressive, the Hunters had played the past few weeks without star playmaker Ase Boas, who contracted dengue fever.
Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical areas, and can include extreme tiredness, intense headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Although the disease is usually non-fatal if treated correctly, up to 25,000 people are killed worldwide by the illness each year.
He made his return to the field in the win over the Cutters via the bench and coach Michael Marum has told media he would consider him for Friday night's game against Ipswich Jets at North Ipswich Reserve.
The Cutters play Townsville at Jack Manski Oval at 6pm Saturday.
PNG HUNTERS 26 (Thompson Teteh, Watson Boas, Adex Wera, Stanton Albert tries; Watson Boas 5 goals) def MACKAY CUTTERS 12 (Jayden Hodges, Cooper Bambling tries; Jack Joass 2 goals) at Oil Search National Football Stadium.