By ISAAC LIRI
THE Agmark Gurias will meet the Lae Tigers in the 2017 Digicel Cup grand final on Saturday after beating the Hela Wigmen 16-12 in their preliminary final yesterday.
The fixture at the PNG Football Stadium saw the East New Britons hold out a rugged Wigmen side despite being on the wrong side of a loop-sided (12-2) penalty count.
Gurias coach Steven Nightingale credited his men for their composure and self-belief particularly on defence.
“It was a good effort by us but it (penalties) nearly cost us the game but my guys didn’t give up, they kept scrambling,” A proud Nightingale said post match.
“Staying in there the boys were locked up in their own area for a very long time but the scrambling defence got us home in the end.”
The Gurias were first to put points on the board with a try to halfback Stanley Olo in the 13th minute which five-eighth Jason Missian converted from out wide.
The Wigmen got on the board in the 29th minute through a try by centre Junior Rau which No.6 Towari Kenake knocked over to level the scores at 6-6.
Gurias No.7 Olo grabbed his second four-pointer in the 35th minute getting his side back into the lead while Missian added the extras for a 12-6 advantage at halftime.
Wigmen had some good field position in the opening stages of the second stanza however the Gurias scrambling defence was up to the task despite a low completion count of their own.
Gurias line was eventually breached by Wigmen’s Messach Wellen and Kenake kicked his side to be level pegging at 12-12 in the 54th minute.
The Gurias regrouped and put several good sets together to be in good field position for Lucas Kapinias to bag what would be the match-winner in the 63rd minute which Missian failed to convert leaving the Gurias four points in front and with a quarter of the match to play.
The final 10 minutes of the game saw the Helas dominate field position however they were foiled by some desparate and brave defence.
Gurias now take on the Tigers in the final for the second year in a row at the PNG Football Stadium.
Gurias 16 (Stanley Olo 2, Lucas Kapinias tries; Jason Missian 2 con) Wigmen 12 (Junior Rau, Messach Wellen tries; Towari Kenake 2 con).
By ISAAC LIRI