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Northern Pride beat PNG Hunters 26-14 in Intrust Super Cup round 2 match

THE Northern Pride have defied the punters to open their 2018 account with a 26-14 win over PNG Hunters at Barlow Park.

Despite missing four of their best including Todd Carney in the Round 2 Intrust Super Cup match on Saturday night, the home side raced to an 18-0 lead shortly after halftime before surviving an attempted comeback from the visitors.

Both sides made multiple errors in a sloppy opening 20 minutes, but the Pride spent much of it camped on the attack after Hunters fullback Adex Wera twice fumbled cleaning up grubber kicks.

Shawn Bowen and Murray Taulagi both missed chances to get the home side on the board, bundled into touch in either corner before they finally capitalised.

Enari Tuala made a 50m break down the right side before the ball went coast-to-coast on the next play for left winger Bowen to score in the 18th minute.

A Jake Clifford conversion made it 6-0 and he added a penalty goal in the 32nd minute to take his side to an eight-point lead.

The following set the Hunters tried to keep a 40/20 attempt in play, putting makeshift fullback Willie Minoga under huge pressure from Pride centre Brett Anderson.

It forced another error and the Bowen dived on the crumbs for his second try.

Clifford made no mistake from out wide once again and remarkably the Pride took a 14-0 lead into halftime.

They invited the visitors back in it on the first tackle with a penalty for an incorrect play the ball and the Hunters looked to have scored from a kick but were called back for off-side.

On the back of that set, the Pride increased their lead when Murray Taulagi crashed over in the 45th minute.

PNG finally got into the game in the 54th minute when Wartovo Puara burrowed over from dummy-half, but a missed conversion from Ase Boas meant they still had a mountain to climb from 18-4 down.

It became a little less steeper eight minutes later when Boas took advantage of three consecutive sets in attack to dance through and score under the posts.

The Pride halted the momentum despite kicking out on the full from the corresponding restart, launching two attacking raids and it was Nathan Wales who sealed the game with a 68th minute try.

Butler Morris scored a consolation try for the Hunters in the 75th minute before Clifford added another penalty goal to complete a 12-0 win.

The win was a massive confidence boost going into a rivalry match with Townsville next weekend, but the club would have been less than happy with a crowd of around 2000, well below an expected 5000.

Northern Pride 26 (Shawn Bowen 2, Murray Taulagi, Nathan Wales tries; Jake Clifford 5 goals) d PNG Hunters 14 (Charlie Simon, Ase Boas, Butler Morris tries; Ase Boas goal)
source: Cairns Post
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