The 80th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign saw the Burleigh Bears and PNG Hunters battle it out at Pizzey Park with the Bears walking away victorious and claiming the eighth Kokoda Cup.
The emotion was evident from the get-go when a dropped ball from Tristan Powell in the first set lead to the two sides coming together for a few stern words and a bit of push and shove.
A penalty in the ninth minute put Burleigh in an attacking position and some quick hands allowed Taine Tuaupiki to open the scoring for the afternoon, to which Josh Rogers gladly added the extra two.
Shortly after, Esan Marsters and Guy Hamilton caught the Hunters forwards napping around the ruck and quickly put the Bears within striking range. A cross-field kick on the following play then saw Sami Sauiluma add his name to the try scorers list.
Josh Rogers wasn’t letting his halves partner have all of the fun and wasted no time in linking with back-rower, Jacob Alick on a wrap-around play to send Rogers over for his own four pointer.
Hunter’s half Jamie Mavoko looked to have opened PNG’s account when he crossed the line late in the half, before being quickly called back for an obstruction in the lead up.
Match: Bears v Hunters
Round 5 -
Venue: Pizzey Park, Gold Coast
Things continued to worsen for the Hunters when centre, Benji Kot left the field with a suspected hamstring injury. His replacement, Sherwin Tanabi’s first half was also short-lived after being sent to the sin-bin minutes later following a crusher tackle which ended Brock Ilett’s afternoon.
The Bears continued to dominate the scoreboard in the second half after a hard line from Powell sent him crashing over for four points in the 51st minute, whilst not even tripping over could stop Hamilton from grounding his own grubber ten minutes later.
Sam Coster rounded out the match with a further four points following a short stint on the bench leaving the Bears to walk away victorious and claim the eighth Kokoda Cup 34-0.
Bears coach Rick Stone was happy with the performance from his team and praised their defence, noting the obvious improvement from last week's loss to Tweed Seagulls.
“Firstly, it’s an honour to play on this day, particularly for the Kokoda Cup," Stone said.
“For us it was about bouncing back from our disappointing effort in our previous match against the Seagulls.
"Defensively we were a lot stronger and a lot more committed. We probably made a few too many errors and made it a bit hard for ourselves in the second half but I’m really happy with our defensive resolve, to keep the opposition to nil is always handy.”
Hunters coach Matt Church also had praise for his side's tenacity despite being down a man for 10 minutes leading into the second half.
“I’m proud of my guys, they are putting in until the 80th minute and we are just getting beat on a rugby league education not on our ability as a footy team," Church said.
“It’s back to the drawing board I guess to keep building on our experience and combinations and there will be better times ahead.”
The Hunters have next week off before playing Norths Devils.
Match: Hunters v Devils
Round 7 -
Venue: Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba
The Bears also have the weekend off before playing Souths Logan Magpies.
Match: Magpies v Bears
Round 7 -
Venue: Davies Park, Brisbane