Chris Hunt may be a 37-year-old rugby league junkie, but the game doesn’t feel like a habit to the former Greater Northern Tigers representative – far from it.
And why would it when, after all these years, he still plays with such snap, crackle and pop? Doubtful there was a winning grin that beamed quite like Hunt’s following the Bears’ 46-22 win over the Roosters at Jack Woolaston Oval on Sunday, the four-time reigning premiers’ 33rd straight home win.
“The boys have done pretty well to keep that intact that long,” Hunt said.
In only his third first-grade game for the club this season, after rejoining them from Group 21 side Aberdeen, Hunt scored a strong try from fullback in the top-of-the-table clash, as Norths ended the Roosters’ unbeaten run and rebounded from a 30-20 round two away loss to Kooty.
He was lured back to Group 4 by the top-grade restructure and the arduous travel commitment involved in playing for Aberdeen, given he still lives in Tamworth. “I like what I see here with what they’re [Group 4] doing,” he said. “It seem to be working out all right with the way they’ve designed the comp this year.”
Nineteen years after making his first-grade debut, at Narromine in Group 11, he has no plans to bid league adieu. “I’m still enjoying it more than ever, eh,” said Norths’ players’ player on Sunday.
Hunt played for West Tamworth in 2016, meaning he came up against a host of his former teammates on Sunday, as Kootingal-Moonbi are stacked with former Lions. “I’m used to playing with all the boys, not against them,” he said. “It was good to get out there.”
“They’re [the Roosters] gonna come back strong, just like we did as well,” he added. “So we need to keep on top of our game as well.”
In a highly anticipated clash, Norths and Kooty delivered as expected in the first half – with the battle for supremacy in the middle, in front of a healthy crowd on an idyllic winter day, ratcheting up the hits and the excitement factor.
But it was Norths who gained an ascendancy they never relinquished after early tries to young winger Colby La-Chiusa and veteran centre Tristram Morris, who, like Hunt, was a late Bears recruit this season. Morris, the man of the match, snared a hat-trick on Sunday to take his season try tally to 11 in five games.
The Bears scored again before the break through goal-kicking back-rower Jake McManus, while the Roosters kept the pressure on via tries to rake Ryan Martin, who posted two on the day, and fullback Mitch Doring. It was 20-12 at halftime.
Obviously, the second half was all Norths, with tries to Morris, Hunt, winger Dan Boland, captain-coach Scott Blanch and replacement forward Bill Jeffery.
“It was very strong around that ruck, up the middle,” Hunt said. “It was nice hard, tough footy.”
NORTH TAMWORTH 46 (T Morris 3, C Hunt, C La-Chiusa, D Boland, S Blanch, J McManus, B Jeffery tries; McManus 4, R Clegg goals) d KOOTINGAL-MOONBI 22 (R Martin 2, M Doring, J Sharpe tries; S Taylor two, Aaron Hall goals). Best and fairest: Morris. three points, B Sowter, two points, Blanch, one point.
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