THE QCCS Mackay Cutters have been left licking their wounds after a tough outing against a classy PNG Hunters outfit. The Cutters were looking to impress in front of a bumper home crowd at BB Print Stadium after their last-start win over Wynnum-Manly; but a combination of fundamental errors and the inability to suppress the flamboyant attacking style of the PNG Hunters saw the home team crumble to a 36-16 defeat.
The Hunters got off to a flying start with Nixon Putt selling a dummy and shooting through a gap in the Mackay defensive line before evading several cover tacklers to score untouched beside the posts.
Mackay responded in dazzling fashion a short time later as Cooper Bambling toed ahead a wayward Hunters pass and soccered the ball downfield before regathering and offloading to Jordan Pereira who steamed into the clear and scored in the corner.
The joy was short lived for the home side as the Hunters’ flying fullback Bland Abavu made his presence felt, bagging two quick-fire tries for himself off the back of some excellent ball movement and second phase play from his PNG team mates that left Mackay’s defence in tatters.
Nico Hynes bought Mackay back within touching distance as the halftime siren sounded, a quick show and go had him touching down beside the uprights to send the Cutters to the sheds down by eight.
The Hunters’ razzle-dazzle attacking raid continued after the break as the Cutters defence began to fall away, Karo Kauna Jr. finding his way to the line as the muddy field conditions began to take a toll on Mackay’s big men.
PNG began to expose Mackay’s defence around the ruck area, and eventually they poked their noses through, an around the corner pass finding a flying Moses Meninga and he bustled his way over to extend the margin to 20 points.
The Cutters had been guilty of shooting themselves in the foot on several occasions over the course of the contest, and a dropped ball deep in their own half was all that was required for the Hunters to make them pay, Watson Boas scooping the ball up in full flight and scoring the sixth try of the evening for PNG.
With the biggest crowd of the season behind them the Cutters dug in for one last effort, Johnny Faletagoa’i finding his way to the line in the final seconds of the game for a consolation try, but the Hunters had well and truly done enough in consigning Mackay to their third defeat of the season, while two valuable competition points ensured PNG stayed in touch with the Intrust Super Cup’s competition leaders.
By: John Bartley