Sport: PNG Hunters to face biggest challenge

History is on the side of the Papua New Guinea Hunters as they look to extend their winning streak to three games against the high-flying Townsville Blackhawks this weekend.

The defending premiers are a lowly tenth on the Intrust Super Cup ladder but have never lost to the North Queensland club on home soil and last year romped to a 42-4 victory at the National Football Stadium.

The Hunters won big when they teams last met in Port Moresby. Photo: RNZI / Melvin Levongo

Michael Marum‘s side also won on the road in Townsville but will have to contend with a team tomorrow on a six-match winning run, while the Hunters have only won four games all season.

“Yeah Townsville they‘re going good. They‘re a big side and they‘ll be really hard to beat up here on Sunday. They‘re coming off another win against Wynnum – 26-16 I think – so we will just concentrate on our game, our preparations. We want to make sure we get that two points again at home but if we win it by ten points, one point (or any margin is fine),” he said.

The Hunters squad has been boosted by the return of Kumuls prop Stanton Albert, who will come off the interchange bench having rejoined the club last week.

PNG international Stanton Albert will come off the bench for the Hunters. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Melvin Levongo

Townsville coach Kristian Woolf said Albert and fellow PNG international Thompson Teteh bring quality and experience to the Hunters team.

“They really add a touch of class to the team and if you have a look at results in this competition at the moment it‘s the closest I think it‘s been since I‘ve been involved, and this is my fourth year involved.”

“The level has really gone up a level from where it was last year and the year before so games are being decided a lot more by two points and four points and field goals and things like that. When you add a couple of classy guys like that into the side that can certainly be the difference in how you find that two points or four points for a win,” he said

Kristian Woolf said despite the Hunters‘ slow start to the season matches between the two teams have tended to be close affairs,

“We‘ve managed to have one blow-out score down here, which was a semi final a couple of years ago, and they managed to get a blow-out score last year and, as I said, other than that every other decision‘s been within two points so I‘d expect it to be the same this year.”

“We‘re certainly in a good place at the moment and we‘ve certainly got a good tough attitude about how we play our footy and, as I said, the Hunters are really improving so I would expect it‘s going to be a really tight game and a very tough one for us to come away with a win,” he said.

Townsville are on a six match winning streak. Photo: RNZI / Melvin Levongo

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