By LARRY ANDREW
COMPETITION leaders Lae Tigers regained lost pride in their 18-16 win over the Enga Mioks in yesterday’s round 11 Digicel Cup game.
The home side, with some regular players out through injury, were on the verge of giving the game away but a man-of-the match performance by hooker Noel Joel saved the day for the big cats.
After losing two matches in a row, the win would have lifted the spirits of the Stanley Tepend-coached side as they remain on top of the competition ladder with 16 points.
The game was playedon a wet and slippery surface of the Lae Rugby League Ground after a heavy rain that stopped just before the game started.
Tigers were first on the scoreboard with an unconverted try from five-eighth Edwin Ipape.
However, that lead was short-lived as the Mioks worked their way into the Tigers territory for workaholic second rower Supa Kokota to barge over for a try. Halfback Roger Laka added the extras for a 6-4 lead.
The Mioks forwards continued applying pressure which paid off with a four-pointer to left winger Maya Komba. The Tigers narrowed the gap to 6-10 through a penalty goal by Joel.
Both teams made errors in dropped balls over the duration of the match but Mioks were determined to hang on to give Tigers their third loss with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.
But with desperation to regain their pride as the best team in the competition, the home side turned the tide.
On the fifth tackle inside the Mioks 20m mark an aerial bomb from halfback Charlie Simono was fumbled by the Mioks defence and Rex Yallon pounced on the loose ball.
The crucial kick atgoal by Joel put the defending champions in front 12-10. Lae carried on the momentum from that last try extending thier lead to 18-10 as Yallon scored his second from a grubber with Joel converting.
With five minutes remaining, the Mioks mounted pressure to stay in the contest and were rewarded with a try to right winger Alma Woro out wide to close the gap to 16-18.
Tigers 18 (Edwin Ipape, Rex Yallon 2 tries, Noel Joel 2 con, 1 pen) Mioks 16 (Supa Kokota, Maya Komba, Alma Woro tries; Roger Laka 2 con).
By LARRY ANDREW