Hunters chase Ipswich’s scalp

THE Papua New Guinea Hunters have taken the Queensland Cup by storm with the team, and its legion of fans, ready to descend on Ipswich on Sunday.

The Ipswich Jets host the third-placed Hunters, who have lost just once in five matches this season.

The Hunters have impressed all they’ve played with their professionalism, high intensity and never-say-die attitude. It will thoroughly test the sixth-placed Jets at the North Ipswich Reserve on Sunday afternoon as they look to leap-frog the Hunters into the competition top five.

PNG supporters are expected to descend on the North Ipswich Reserve in huge numbers, as they have done for most of the team’s away games so far.

But the possibility of having their own home support drowned out by Hunters fans doesn’t deter the Jets’ former Papua New Guinea national team representative forward Rod Griffin. “Brisbane is full of Papua New Guineans,” Griffin said.

“It’s more about the atmosphere than who the crowd is supporting.”

The atmosphere should be matched by a game involving two teams keen to play a fast game of footy and air their attacking skills.

The Hunters aren’t a particularly tall or heavy team.

They’ve only got one player above six-feet tall and include a winger, George Benson, who stands 162cm tall but weighs 98kg.

But every team that has encountered them has been taken aback by their physicality.

Combined with their instincts to throw the ball around, it will ensure the big crowd is well entertained on what doubles as the Jets’ Disability Awareness Day

“Aggressive running and slick passing” have become the hallmarks of the newest side in the Queensland Cup, to quote the Queensland Rugby League after the Hunters upset defending premiers Mackay Cutters 24-16 in round two. Their only loss so far has been to the Northern Pride.

Last weekend the Hunters drew with Easts 20-20, coming back from a 12-point deficit to split the points.

“They’re a very physical side so it should be good,” Griffin said.

“They’re going pretty well at the moment. It’ll be a pretty good test for us.”

Griffin believes if the Jets can hold their own through the fierce opening exchanges, their brand of high tempo footy can wear the Hunters down.

“That will be the main challenge,” Griffin said.

“”If we can weather the storm at the start. We’re pretty well equipped to handle it.”

The test will come not just from the physical challenge, but from the unpredictability of PNG players. Many are unused to the methods Australians have had drilled into them since kids and Griffin said their raw talent was stunning.