Pas­sion­ate PNG Hun­ters out­last barn­storm­ing Townsville side yet again

Black­hawks lose thriller

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMPSON michael. thompson@ news. com. au

FOR the sec­ond time this year the Townsville Black­hawks have been pipped at the line by the ruth­less and fiercely pas­sion­ate PNG Hun­ters.

The Black­hawks now share top spot on the In­trust Su­per Cup lad­der with PNG, fol­low­ing yesterday’s 28- 26 loss in Kokopo, which pro­vided another re­minder that this year’s bat­tle for the ISC premier­ship is just be­gin­ning.

Trail­ing PNG 28- 12 with less than 30 min­utes to go, the Black­hawks raced in three unan­swered tries from Michael Parker- Wal­she, Zac Santo and Kelepi Tangi­noa to set up a grand­stand fin­ish.

The Black­hawks were on the cusp of bag­ging a late win­ner in the last minute, only for a dropped ball to give PNG the scrum, lead­ing to scenes of ju­bi­la­tion at Kal­abond Oval.

“If any­thing, it was the high­est qual­ity game we have played so far,” Black­hawks coach Kris­tian Woolf said.

“It was a good, tough, phys­i­cal game and they ( PNG) are go­ing to be very hard to beat. I thought the ef­fort from us was cer­tainly there and if we wanted to drop our heads, there were plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to do so, but we didn’t.

“I don’t think this is a team that will lie down and we cer­tainly had all the run­ning near the end and we were well on top. But er­rors let us down, and if we com­pleted that last set I re­ally think we could have got over the line.”

Just as they did when they beat the Black­hawks 22- 16 in Townsville two months ago, the Hun­ters started yesterday’s game in top gear, scor­ing the first two tries through Noel Zem­ming and Is­rael Eliab.

Tangi­noa got a quick- fire dou­ble for the Black­hawks five min­utes later to draw scores level, only for PNG to go ahead 18- 12 when full­back Star­groth Ameon crossed the try­line.

The Hun­ters fired with the same in­ten­sity af­ter half- time to bag two more four- point­ers through Ase Boasa and Adex Wera, but af­ter that it was oneway traf­fic as the Black­hawks made their run, with Parker Wal­she cross­ing over in the cor­ner, Santo latch­ing on to a blind­side pass from Tom Hum­ble to score and Tangi­noa grab­bing his hat- trick.

Neville Costi­gan played af­ter pass­ing a fi­nal test for con­cus­sion suf­fered in Towns- ville’s last game against Easts Tigers, as did Ricky Thorby.

“It’s been a great road trip, but at the same time it’s been a tough road trip,” Woolf said, whose team spent Fri­day and Satur­day trav­el­ling to Cairns, on to Port Moresby and then to Kokopo in East New Bri­tain.

“But travel is just part of rugby league and it’s a part of this com­pe­ti­tion, and we’ll take a hell of a lot of good things out of this game.”

It was a

good, tough phys­i­cal game and they ( PNG) are go­ing to be very hard to beat

KRIS­TIAN WOOLF

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