The SP Hunters fought out a dramatic come-from-behind win against the Redcliffe Dolphins at the Kalabond Oval, Kokopo on Saturday.
The forty three to thirty six point win was all more sweeter as Captain Israel Eliab, hoisted the Inaugural Stan Joyce Award, that commemorated the historic first match between the two sides in round 1.
The Kalabond Oval was packed to capacity as the third placed hunters took on an inform Redcliffe Dolphins.
The match was commemorated with the Inaugural Stan Joyce Award that would be played for annually, between the two sides.
Redcliffe started off the better of the two sides, taking a three-try lead early as the hunters began to let tackles slide, and failing to stop the ball carriers close to their line.
Hunters began stepping up, Sebastian Pandia with a half break. Eliabs kick on the fifth in Dolphins territory paid off with the Hunters restricting their opponents to their 30m line. Thompson Teteh finally getting the ball rolling for the home side, crossing in the corner.
He got his second, five minutes later, with a break from the halfway after a quick off-load by hooker Wartovo Puara, Garry Lo backing up, Teteh going alone.
Lo himself had thought he’d gone over, only for the referee to call a forward pass, right on the stroke of half time.
Hunters began the 2nd half in better form than the first. Puara, who had been quiet in the first, was now taking more dummy runs in the second.
But the home side began to feel hard done by, a call against Noel Zeming left the centre fuming at the referee, but a break by Brandy Peter, gave Zeming a chance at redemption, and his quick pass to Adex Wera, resulted in the hunters narrowing the deficit.
Zeming himself would score soon after to reduce the deficit to only four points but Redcliffe would reply with two tries of their own to further extend their lead.
The Hunters would not give Zeming with what he thought was his second, only for the referee to call play back again.
To make matters worse, Redcliffe were awarded a penalty 25m out to further extend their lead to 36-26.
A loss seemed imminent, till captain Eliab side-stepped to score near the posts.
Adam Korave raised more hopes as he crossed over, Zeming’s equalizer a blessing and Eliab’s field goal, answering the crowds’ prayers. Hunters with 37, and Dolphins 36.
Garry Lo sealed the come-back with a runaway as a demoralized Redcliffe team looked on. Redcliffe Captain, Jon Greene, was very disappointed with the final results, while SP Hunters Coach, Michael Marum, was happy with his team’s effort.
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