Easts Tigers remain undefeated four rounds into the Intrust Super Cup competition after beating PNG Hunters 30-14 this afternoon.
In an attempt to arrest what has been a horror start to their season, PNG Hunters coach Michael Marum made nine changes from last week's side for today's game, including the return of star Ase Boas.
Three players were stood down for disciplinary reasons and four were handed their Intrust Super Cup debuts.
If this was an experiment, then Marum needs to continue the experiment because his side was beaten 30-14 by a clinical Tigers side this afternoon.
The Hunters had a miserable first half, highlighted by six errors and five penalties; a high percentage of the Hunters penalties were for being off side and it appeared they were just too eager in both attack and defence.
Undoubtedly there is a lot of pressure on Boas to turn their season around after his return from Featherstone Rovers, but he was a guilty as any of being over eager, pushing passes, rushing plays and not letting things flow naturally.
This is a very high quality Tigers side and they do not need anywhere as much possession and position as they were given today to carve out a win.
Brandon Downey, in his first game back in the top grade after a long time out, showed he has lost none of his pace and skill to swoop on a Matt Cooper pass in the 11th minute and score his sixth try in six games.
Aaron Booth scored a try that was far too easy when he waltzed over from dummy half in the 17th minute.
Stanton Albert, who was the nearest defender, only had eyes for where he thought the ball was going and paid no attention to the most dangerous man on the field - the man with the ball - allowing Booth a clear passage to the line.
Charlie Simon opened the Hunters account in the 25th minute, with a try from dummy half that mirrored Booth's.
The Tigers struck back in the 32nd minute when Billy Walters held up a pass perfectly before delivering it to Chase Blair to score on the right edge.
Walters was at it again in the 39th minute, when he hoisted a pin point bomb that put the Hunters defenders under immense pressure as it came down right on their line.
With the half time hooter sounding in the background, Curtis Dansey-Smaller climbed high over the pack, took the ball on his chest and grounded it to score.
Aaron Booth converted three of the Tigers' four first half tries and they went to the break leading 22-4.
It was not all bad for the Hunters, their best period coming in the middle of the second half when they finally got back to playing the kind of football we have come to expect from them.
They had plenty of bodies in motion, let the ball fly and kept everything happening at speed.
Junior Rau showed that, when given opportunities, he could be as dangerous a finisher as any in the competition, scoring two magnificent tries, dancing down the sideline to score in the scoreboard corner in the 53rd and 57th minutes.
Boas landed his only goal from three attempts in the 55th minute.
Given that it was rainy for the entire game, it is a real testament to the outside backs from both teams that so many tries were scored out wide.
Rau's tries had pulled the score back to 22-14, but the Tigers were far from done with another outside back, Tom Hughes, scoring two sensational tries to seal the win.
Hughes' last try came after a text book pass from Josh Ralph; Hughes had plenty of work left to do though, a beautiful 'in and away' and a difficult left handed put down in the can bar corner were needed before the referee pointed to the spot.
As with Dansey-Smaller's try in the first half, this try was scored with the siren sounding.
Despite losing, this was definitely a better performance for the Hunters and key men like Boas and Albert will only get better as they spend more time with their new team mates and begin to build combinations and develop timing.
Along with Rau, Adex Wera looked very good for the Hunters and they will want to try and get him more ball in the weeks ahead.
In the forwards, Moses Meninga and Epel Kapinias made sure the Tigers defence, which was exceptionally organised and executed, worked hard all day.
There were good players all over the field for the Tigers, though it is hard to go past key playmakers Walters, Ralph and Booth when considering their best.
Match: Tigers v Hunters
Round 4 -
Venue: Langlands Park, Brisbane
The Tigers are at home again next week when they take on the Central Queensland Capras in the television game.
Match: Tigers v Capras
Round 5 -
Venue: Langlands Park, Brisbane
- Nine Network
The Hunters will be back in Brisbane to face the Norths Devils under lights on Saturday night.
Match: Devils v Hunters
Round 5 -
Venue: Bishop Park, Brisbane