Out-of-sorts PNG Hunters led themselves to league slaughter
27 September 2015
THE game was a week ago – and I’m still hurting.
In a must-win match in the Intrust Super Cup – the Queensland-based rugby league competition in which they’d performed so well – the PNG Hunters failed to play their trademark winning brand of football.
Commenting on the loss, coach Michael Marum said the Hunters will learn from this experience and be better next year.
But on the day there was ample time for the Hunters to learn from the first half and resurrect their game in the second. They did not, and went down 12-28.
A grand final berth between the Hunters and the Townsville Blackhawks would have been a fitting 40th Independence gift for Papua New Guinea.
However in both semi-final games the Hunters led themselves to the slaughter.
In the match against the Ipswich Jets, the Hunters missed too many tackles. Jets players were allowed to roam the field at will and keep the ball alive. Some of their tries were very soft to say the least.
There were many other mistakes. Poor kicking options, unstructured positions in defence and attack and the lack of combination between halves Israel Eliab and Ase Boas cost the Hunters the game.
In contrast to other games played during the season, the performance was pathetic and the most embarrassing to watch. Simply they did not play the brand of football they are known for.
Instead their opponents hurt them all over the park. The Jets had a field day, brushing off tackles and scoring some of the softest tries the Intrust Super Cup had ever seen.
The game was an insult to every rugby league follower in PNG. The game was practically over at half time.
Was it not enough that seven million supporters in PNG were behind the Hunters? Did they not beat these same two teams during the season both in PNG and Australia? Furthermore, the Hunters players will make up the bulk of the Kumuls national side. Is this the kind of capitulation we will offer in test matches against other league playing nations?
The Hunters players did not turn up to play. They lost their soul.
Of course there were few calls by the referee that went against the Hunters, but the coaching staff and the players must blame themselves for the outcome.
I have been an ardent and passionate supporter of the code, and the Hunters in particular, but since this game I’m rethinking.
But the Hunters, at their best, have shown the rest of the world that Papua New Guineans can play league.
The support from business and government has been excellent and hopefully will continue. We need to develop the code further in the domestic arena.
And there’s always next year.
I forgot to add this: With increasing funding and even political support for sport, with the accompanying resource support, it is important to both prepare our sports start physically and mentally.
Sports psychologist and motivational speakers may have an important role to play here.
I think that the performances of the players in both games have not really brought NRL teams that may be scouting for talents.
It is not enough that we simply gloss over what a year it has been for the Hunters. We need to be learning, growing and improving.
Am I a Hunters hater? No! What is my interest then? I wish to see the game that we all love, and has become our national sport to produce results and have meaning far beyond the field. Rugy League in this country still has one of the promising potential to bring about change.
I still hold onto the firm belief that we can do better.
Posted by: John Kaupa Kamasua | 28 September 2015 at 09:17 PM
Typical PNG performance - no delivery when it really counts.
Posted by: Michael Dom | 27 September 2015 at 11:44 AM