Excitement is building in the nation of Papua New Guinea and the Un-Democratic Republic of The Gurgler as the confirmation that our favourite sporting team on earth the PNG Hunters have made the Intrust Super Cup Grand Final.
As you’d expect they did it the hard way after a low scoring 6-4 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins in Port Moresby and scored the only try of the game in the final quarter of the game to Intrust Super Cup players of the year, XXXX People’s Choice Player of the Year, but not Five Eighth of the Year Ase Boas. Redcliffe led 4-0 at half time thanks to a pair of penalty goals.
The end result means September 24’s Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium will feature an international team for the first time, and there will be plenty, especially us, that will be hoping for victory.
They have to wait to see if they face the Dolphins again, or perhaps their bogey side Sunshine Coast Falcons. We all find out next weekend.
But here are some thoughts about the PNG Hunters Grand Final.
FIRST WIN IN FINALS FOR HUNTERS
The big doubt heading into Sunday’s match against Redcliffe Dolphins was the Hunter’s 0-3 records in the finals in their previous two visits in 2015 and 2016. In 2015 they went out in consecutive games in Townsville, and then unfairly (because of losing home ground advantage) at Wynnum against Ipswich.
The 6-4 win is the kind of toughness and determination required at this time of year, and the curse is lifted off the backs of the Hunters with a first finals win.
MINOR PREMIERS CURSE
One thing the Hunters will need to be wary of is the atrocious record of minor premiers in the big game.
Only one minor premier since 2007 has won the grand Final, in most cases the Minor Premier makes the Grand Final and loses, and sometime they don’t even make it all.
That is a dangerous statistic hanging over the Hunters heads. However, so was their winless finals record too before the weekend.
HUNTERS KEPT THE 2nd BEST ATTACKING TEAM TRYLESS
The Redcliffe Dolphins were just behind the Falcons in most points scored in the regular Intrust Super Cup 2017 season, averaging 26 points per game. So it was some effort to keep such a team tryless, and to just a couple of penalty goals.
They say defense wins finals, so that’s a good sign then.
SO WHO WOULD THE HUNTERS RATHER PLAY?
Probably not the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
The Falcons have become quite the bogey side for the Hunters, and the Sunshine Coast based side have strengthened their squad in 2017.
PNG haven’t beaten the Sunshine Coast away from home since 2014, and the Falcons were cheeky enough to knock out the Hunters in the first week of the finals last season in Port Moresby.
Their away record against Redcliffe isn’t much better. Their first game ever was at Dolphin Oval in 2014 and resulted in a first win, however despite a highly entertaining 28-28 draw in 2015, the Hunters haven’t beaten the Dolphins since.
One thing in their favour is Redcliffe’s ordinary recent record in Intrust Super Cup Grand Finals. They last won a premiership in 2006, but in three subsequent visits have been beaten in the big match.
In the end it shouldn’t matter. The Hunters should have plenty to win.
HUNTERS WIN SAVES EMBARRASSMENT OVER POTENTIAL NEUTRAL FINAL
Potentially cheering just as hard as PNG may have been the QRL, so the awkward situation of the Hunters being denied a home final two years in three was avoided.
Hopefully something can be sorted for next season. Why not Fox Sports picking up the local pay TV coverage if it is clear the current broadcast partnership can’t find the resources to do so.
GRAND FINAL INFORMATION
Better get your tickets as they are going fast.
Visit the QRL Grand Final Information page for all the details.