We head to Port Moresby to take on the 2017 premiers PNG Hunters this weekend and, after beating them twice last season, one thing is for sure – they will be ready for us.
The Hunters have lost their last two on the road, to Sunshine Coast and Northern Pride, after starting the season with a win at home against Ipswich, so that will make them fired up to perform at the National Stadium.
But, while we only have a few players who played in the victory there last year, we are improving and know what we are capable if we play with a bit more discipline with the ball.
That’s what has been letting us down in the first three rounds. We’ve been competing at less than 70 per cent and we can’t do that with team that is short of experience compared to most other in the Intrust Super Cup, especially in the forwards.
We’ve had to do reshuffle of the backline as Regan Muir (who replaced the suspended Brayden McGrady last weekend) and Tevita Folau won’t travel to PNG. So Kiah Cooper will go from the wing to the centres and Beau Codrtz goes from the bench to the wing and Kainoa Gudgeon will make his debut on the other wing.
Kainoa, originally from WA, played under-20s for the Newcastle Knights last season and has a lot of speed and good footwork and Beau did a good job off the bench against Burleigh Bears last weekend at hooker, even though he is normally a fullback, and is pretty versatile and a tough character. Kiah has played a lot of centre in under-20s too, so we’re not short on talent there.
We did a pretty good job for most of the game against the Bears, I thought, and were in the game at 10-0 behind after 36 minutes before we let in a couple of pretty soft tries just before the break and went in at 22-0 down. Then we got back to 22-12 before we let two tries in during the last four minutes, so 32-12 wasn’t a real reflection on the game.
We just have to be more consistent over 80 minutes and for a lot of guys that will come with more experience I hope.
We completed at 68 per cent, which was better than previously, but we are just not getting as many opportunities as other teams because of that and too much cheap turnover of possession – like two penalties from us playing the ball. We’ve been putting too much pressure on ourselves.
We have to do a good job defending the Hunters in the middle and control the ball well, and if we do that I think we will get the opportunities. We just have to be patient enough and tough enough to get those opportunities and put them under pressure.
We’ve got Sam Meskell, Lamar Liolevave, Tristan Lumley and Sam Saville from the teams that beat the Hunters last year so it’s very much a new side but the fact we beat them, and those four know how, can hopefully give us some confidence.
The energy has been great at training and the talk amongst the guys during the video session after the Bears game was good.
They know what they’re capable of, but we just have to control the ball better and give ourselves more of a chance of showing what we can do. We just have to more consistently work ourselves into good possession at the right end of the field and have the confidence that we’ve got the structure and talent to get across the line.
We head up there today from Brisbane for Sunday’s match and come back Monday so it’s a different Easter for us, but it gives us time to acclimatise.
Hopefully we can come back with the best record against the Hunters – three wins in a row.