Tigers, Gurias primed


DESPITE being overshadowed somewhat by the Q-Cup major semifinal on Sunday, tomorrow’s Digicel Cup grand final is expected to attract the fans out to the Sir John Guise Stadium.
For the grand finalists, it is a replay of last year’s decider with defending premiers the Lae Tigers taking on perennial threats the Agmark Gurias.
After a 14-week season the cream of the PNG National Rugby League Competition has risen to the top with arguably the two best sides meeting at the 15,000 capacity venue — the first two weeks of the of the finals series were played at the neighbouring PNG Football Stadium — in a fitting finale.
The Tigers have the wood on the Gurias this season winning two of their three encounters with their 18-16 major semifinal win two weeks ago earning coach Stanley Tepend’s men the first grand final berth.
The Gurias went on to beat the Hela Wigmen 16-12 in last Sunday’s preliminary final to set up a replay of last year’s final.
It will be all different ball game with the two top teams to grasp the prestigious Digicel Cup.
Gurias coach Steven Nightingale said his side has had a more relaxed approach to this year’s grand final.
“I’ve told them to enjoy the week leading up because you never know,” Nightingale said. “It’s been another tough season and we’re looking to finish on a positive note.”  He said the week had been used by the team to recover from their win over the Wigmen and the final line-up would be confirmed on grand final day.
For the Tigers, Timothy Lomai is the only change to the side that won a fortnight ago, with the former Hunters player named as the 18th man.
Tepend said he would retain the side that beat the Gurias on Aug 27.
“We’re only going by what we did last year and training has been good this week. We’ve got a few young faces and this would be their first time to play in a final so it’s a big thing for them,” Tepend said.
Gurias: 1. Konie Bernard, 2. William Aquila, 3. Eliakim Lukara, 4. John Ragi Jr, 5. Lucas Kapinias, 6. Jason Missian, 7. Stanley Olo, 8. Ila Alu (C), 9. Brian Gispe, 10. Dilbert Issac, 11. Tuvi Lepan, 12. Edward Goma, 13. Nelson Daplen; Reserves: 14. John Mondo, 15. Philemon Taim, 16. Emmanuel John, 17. Billy Torea
Tigers: 1. Joe Joshua, 2. Billy Paul, 3. Pasu Awani, 4. Enoch Sine, 5. Anderson Benford, 6. Edwin Ipape, 7. Charlie Simon, 8. Mark Piti, 9. Noel Joel, 10. Junior Rop, 11. Rex Yallon, 12. Tiger Emere, 13. Ishmael Balkawa; Reserves: 14. Wesa Tenza, 15. John Andy, 16. Joe Joe Wallamas, 17. Paul Mugua, 18. Timothy Lomai.

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