By JACK AMI
THE Port Moresby Vipers bagged their second win of the season, edging the Goroka Lahanis 24-18 at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium yesterday.
The Digicel Cup round 11 fixture may have been played in front of an empty stadium but that did not affect the home side who played with resolve and confidence to earn a deserved victory.
With halves Ate Bina Wabo at halfback and Solomon Pokari at standoff organising the sets, the Vipers looked a different side than the one that had lost their first nine games of the season.
Hooker Patrick Morea was also a valuable cog in the Vipers machine as they churned out a solid 80-minute performance and in the process avenged their 12-8 loss in round four in Goroka.
Vipers coach Joe Sipa said he was happy with the result even though occasional unforced error and as well as the team switching off at times were things that needed to be improved.
The Lahanis were first to register points in the 3rd minute with Buddy Torasa crossing over near the uprights. Halfback Robin Soga converted for a 6-0 lead.
The home side responded eight minutes later through centre Sparo Thomas to trail 6-4.
Vipers No.6 Pokari crossed for the host’s second four-pointer and the lead changed hands with Sipa’s men holding an 8-6 advantage at halftime.
Lahanis’ Nuabe Kuipa carried over several defenders to post the Eastern Highlanders’ second try and after Soga converted his side were four points up at 18-12.
The Vipers’ confidence was tested and they reacted by regaining control of the ruck and in the 50th minute centre Rex Maima bustled his way over the line and Pokari managed to cap it off with the extras for a 14-12 lead.
Vipers fullback Brendon Gutuno cut through the Lahanis’ defence inside their 20m to push the lead out to 18-2.
That spurred brother Ezra who crossed for his side’s fifth try in the 66th minute which Pokari converted for a 24-12 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Vipers 24 (Sparo Thomas, Solomon Pokari, Rex Maima, Brendon Gotuno, Ezra Gotuno tries; Solomon Pokari 2 con) Lahanis 18 (Baddy Torosa, Nuabe Kuipa, Gonzella Urakusie tries; Robin Soga 3 con).
Round 11 results: Sun, July 30 – Vipers 24 Lahanis 18, Gurias 16 Wigmen 12, Tumbe 0 Muruks 10, Tigers 18 Mioks 16.
By JACK AMI