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Hunters stun Devils

Updated: 2 days ago

Brandon Nima’s late try on the stroke of full time saw the SP PNG Hunters pull off a gutsy 20-18 victory over the North Devils during their round 17 clash of the Queensland Hostplus Cup on Sunday, July 7th, 2024, at Bishop Park in Brisbane.

Against all odds, the Hunters edged the Devils for the first time at Bishop Park since round 13 in 2017. Coincidentally, when the SP Brewery-sponsored side defeated the Devils that year, they went on to claim their maiden premiership. Sunday’s match gave that deja vu feeling for the Hunters.

The Paul Aiton-coached outfit have struggled to win away games this season, registering three wins and suffering four losses. However, they have an impressive record at home, tasting two defeats only on PNG’s rugby league spiritual home ground, the Santos National Football Stadium.

No one expected the inconsistent Hunters to give the competition leaders (Devils) a run for their money. The Hunters weathered the storm and humbled the Northern lads on their home turf. They shocked and surprised everyone with the upset win.

The hosts opened the scoreboard with an untouched try under the uprights through Mason Teague in the 5th minute, leaving the score at 6-0. A few minutes later, the visitors responded with an equalizer through Alex Max in the 17th minute, who barged his way to the try line.

Winger Manasseh Kaho scored an acrobatic try in the corner through a sleek ball movement in the 35th minute to retake the lead, bringing the scores to 10-4. Two minutes before the hooter sounded for the halftime break, bench utility Finlare Glare, bagged a 4-pointer from Wane's offload, locking the scores at 10 points apiece.

In the second spell, the hosts posted a try in the 43rd minute through a barnstorming run by the forward to increase their lead. Unfazed by the try from the prop, Clent Lama scooped the ball quickly from the ruck and crossed over the line in the 69th minute, leveling the points at 14-all.

With Andre Niko’s 77th minute try, the Devils thought they put the final nail to the coffin. However, with a little bit of faith and determination, Judah Rimbu made a line break and offloaded to Benji Kot, who passed the ball to Nima and scored a dramatic try in the shadows of full-time to force a draw.

The game hung in the balance but Hunters’ chief playmaker, Jamie Mavoko, converted the try by Nima successfully and shattered the table toppers, pushing them to the second spot on the standings, while the Hunters jumped into the 7th position.

Coach Paul Aiton was impressed with the gallant win, mentioning the team’s confidence to stay in the grind and compete for 80 minutes, but admitted that there was more work to be done to flex their premiership credentials.

With this much-needed win, it has given the Hunters a confidence booster as they prepare to host the Central Queensland Capras at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby on Sunday, July 14th. 

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