By KEITH PUARIA
A LATE come-from-behind surge by Defence in Saturday’s Port Moresby rugby union pre-season Cup final was halted only by the fulltime whistle, as the Murray Barracks men narrowly went down fighting to Brothers 15-12.
Wanderers bound Aaron Miai was business as usual for the men in green, but a much more disciplined display by the Brothers pack up front held the forth in the opening stages.
Brothers, led by a “fresh” Douglas Guise, controlled almost everything from set pieces to broken play, running in three tries in the first half, PNG gunner Gina Ponda “zipping”straight through off a clearly set move.
A much more polished performance by backrowers Taugau Tau, Cyjoh Waingut and Troy Kuto kept possession ever-recycled in a dominant display.
The inclusion of sevens squad members, former Brothers club junior and current captain Alex Haija, “gunner” Ponda, and “little-big” man Albert Levi Jr for Brothers and Daniel Ponda, Tisa Kautu and Sova Milfred for Defence, a week away from the Adelaide Sevens also gave the Bava crowd a glimpse of the fiery potential in the travelling squad.
In the earlier third place playoff, University scored a heart wrenching clincher on the hooter to beat a vibrant Wanderers side 22-17.
The women’s final was won by a flamboyant Defence side 34-10 over Brothers in an equally contested match up front.
Defence’s strength in their outside backs eventually proved the difference at the end.
At the completion of the pre-season finals, the Brothers bagged a total of K3,500, through K3,000 the men and K500 runners-up from the women, while Defence took out K2,000, K1,000 from the men’s runners-up and K1,000 from the women’s win.
University bagged K500 for their third place win over Wanderers, who may not have won the money, but remain hot contestants for the season proper which begins on March 27.
Port Moresby rugby will announce its squad, in preparation for the Southern Traders Super 5s campaign this week.