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PNG Hunters finals hopes at stake

Staff Reporter 8/14/2014 | | | | |
THE success of the Papua New Guinea Hunters debut season comes down to Sunday’s crucial Round 24 match with the Wynnum
Manly Seagulls in Brisbane.
The match, at BDM Kougari Oval, pits the third-placed Seagulls
on 32 points, against Michael
Marum’s side, who sit outside
the top five in sixth spot on 29 points.
A loss for the Hunters would effectively end their hopes of making the finals in their first year and to ease the pressure on the team, who fly down to Brisbane
today, major sponsor South Pacific Brewery will fund the side’s extended stay in Queensland
as they then play the Souths Logan Magpies in Round 25 before
returning to Kokopo
The Hunters have the bye in the final round and are guaranteed two points but need to beat the Seagulls and the Magpies – two teams they beat handily at home this year – to give themselves the best chance of qualifying for the finals.
Marum has kept the side that beat the Jets last week, with winger Garry Lo, pictured left, looking to add to his 22-try tally, and backrowers David Loko and George Benson still out on disciplinary grounds.
Jordan Kahu, pictured right, who is part of the Brisbane Broncos squad, is on the wing for the Seagulls and his match-up with Garry Lo is expected to be one of the highlights of this important fixture.
Other Wynnum players expected to feature prominently are centres Matt Grieve and Mitchell Buckett while captain Timothy Natusch and hooker Alehana Mara will provide the home side with the direction and leadership.
Wynnum were beaten comprehensively 32-4 by Tweed Heads last week in what many pundits saw as an upset, with the Wynnum-Manly side considered the more consistent performer over the season.
The Hunters’ best possible scenario is to win their two away games, starting with Wynnum on Sunday, and claim six points to get to 35 on the ladder and hope Wynnum, Tweed Heads or Ipswich lose one of their next two games.
Despite beating the fourth-placed Ipswich Jets, 40-22, last Saturday in Kokopo, the Hunters were unable to crack the top five, with the Jets on 30 points, a point ahead.
The Jets have the bye this round and then take on competition leaders and minor premiers, the Northern Pride away before finishing the regular season against the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Wynnum have a bye next round before playing their final game against the Easts Tigers.
The Tweed Heads Seagulls, on 31 points, play the Easts Tigers, Sunshine Coast Falcons and Mackay Cutters over the last three rounds. The Jets, Tweed Heads and the Wynnum take on opposition that is above them in the final three rounds and a win against high fliers the Pride and the Tigers is not guaranteed for any of these three teams, leaving the door ajar for the Hunters to sneak into the top five.
The Hunters have played 10 away games so far this season, winning three, losing six and drawing one.
Their wins came against sides below them on the ladder against the Dolphins (24-18, Rd 1), Sunshine Cost Falcons (16-4, Rd 8) and the Central Queensland Capras (16-12, Rd 13).
The match will be covered by Channel Nine’s Queensland and will be broadcast in PNG by EMTV. The kick-off is at 2.10pm on Sunday.
PNG Hunters: 1. Israel Eliab (c) 2. Garry Lo 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Jason Tali 5. Adex Wera 6. Dion Aiye 7. Roger Laka 8. Timothy Lomai 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Lawrence Tu’u 12. Sebastian Pandia 13. Brandy Peter 14. Noel Zemming 15. Willie Minoga 16. Stanton Albert 17. Albert Patak 18. Adam Korave 19. Joe Bruno 20. Edward Goma
Wynnum Manly Seagulls: 1. Daniel Ogden 2. Peter Gubb 3. Matt Grieve 4. Mitchell Buckett 5. Jordan Kahu 6. Ben Cronin 7. Matthew Seamark 8. Tanu Wulf 9. Alehana Mara 10. Timothy Natusch (c) 11. Jon Grieve 12. Graham Clark 13. Mitchell Frei 14. John Te Reo 15. Saia Makisi 16. Chris McLean 17. Dylan Smith
 
The National

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