The SP PNG Hunters made a propelling start to 2024 season with an 18-4 victory of Ipswich Jets in the first trial match on Saturday.
The Paul Aiton coached-Hunters faced Jets without several key players, who were sidelined due to injuries sustained during their inter-trial match at Santos National Football Stadium last weekend, as well as visa issues.
The first encounter was part of Aiton’s task on assembling a more determined outfit that is hopeful to enter the finals for the first time since 2017.
Picking up a 14-point victory, coach Aiton was impressed with the way his men handle the trial match at the North Ipswich Reserve.
“I was really pleased with our effort today (on Saturday),” the former NRL and Super League hooker said.
“There are still plenty of things to work on but I was just happy to see us execute a lot of things we have been working on this pre-season.”
Despite the wet conditions, the first 20 minutes proved to be intriguing, with both teams displaying discipline and holding their defensive lines effectively.
The homeside struck first in the 30th minute and broke the spell with a try to Paul Iopu, taking an early 4-0 lead after an unsuccessful conversion attempt.
Things got in sync 4-minutes after as the Hunters quickly retaliated with a try through Joshua Mire and Sakias Komati’s successful conversion brought the score to 6-4, heading into the break.
Aiton’s men got things under control in second stanza as elusive fullback Sanny Wabo showcased his prowess, scoring a double to secure the win.
Rake Tapia Solu was on target with his boots successfully converted both tries and extended the Hunters’ lead to 18-4 at full time.
The SP Brewery-sponsored club is expected to play another trial match on the 24th February against the Queensland Capras in Gladstone to wrap up pre-season.