Papua New Guinea
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Hunters face Brisbane Tigers in Round 19 clash

The SP PNG Hunters will take the field refreshed after a two weekend rest, following a bye in Round 18 and a break in the QRL Hostplus Cup competition last weekend.

The break have given the Hunters enough room for more work outs to maintain the momentum they built over their last five fixtures. Hunters will look to return to the winner’s circle when they face the Brisbane Tigers on Sunday, 30th July at Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane. 

The Hunters have steadily improved throughout the 2023 season to sit in 11th position on the Hostplus Cup ladder with four rounds remaining. They picked up a few wins early in the season against lesser opposition but it wasn’t until midway through the year that the Hunters truly found their form. 

A run of games on home soil at the Santos National Football Stadium saw the Hunters catapult themselves up the QRL ladder, with big wins over finals-bound clubs Tweed Seagulls, Sunshine Coast Falcons and Central Queensland Capras. 

The Hunters found a winning formula during that period and now have the game plan to challenge the top teams in the competition. By powering through the middle and compressing the defence around the ruck, the Hunters are now consistently building towards scoring actions on the edges. 

Halfback Jamie Mavoko – playing in just his second season in the QRL Hostplus Cup – and fellow rookie five-eighth Sakias Komati have combined smartly this season to bring the Hunters strike outside backs into the game. 

Rodrick Tai, Solo Wane, Brandon Nima, Junior Igila and fullback sensation Morea Morea have all been afforded opportunities to impact results thanks to the work of their forward pack and spine players. 

The Hunters have also enjoyed excellent contributions from some lesser known or established players. Joshua Mire, Joshua Lau, Whallan Tau-Loi, Tommy Moide and Trevor Solu have all risen to the challenge this year and given the Hunters squad a depth they’ve not had in previous seasons. 

This new-and-improved Hunters side face a stern test this Sunday with the fifth placed Brisbane Tigers. The game will have plenty of feel about it, with Tigers Head Coach, Matt Church coming up against his former side for the second time this year. 

These two clubs last met in Round 3 earlier this season, when Church’s Tigers snuck away with a two-point victory. No doubt the Hunters will be desperate to make amends for that narrow loss this weekend. 

The Tigers are one of the better attacking teams in the competition with NRL-quality players littered across their lineup. Corey Thompson, George Jennings, Ryley Jacks and Kane Bradley will give the Tigers a wealth of experience and attacking talent on Sunday afternoon. 

SP PNG Hunters captain Ila Alu has been in inspired form since returning from injury in Round 14. 

As one of the club’s most experienced campaigners, the Hunters are a much-improved outfit with Alu on the field.

Against a hardened and experienced Tigers forward pack this weekend, the Hunters will need Alu at his barnstorming, tackling best if they’re to win any field position and generate points.