The National, Tuesday July 24th, 2012
IF the drop in the quality of rugby league has been Digicel Cup’s top secret all season, we can thank the Rabaul Gurias for exposing it on Sunday.
Cellar dwellers Gulf Isapeas were treated like schoolboys in the 86-4 annihilation at Kalabond Oval.
The 82-point margin, the biggest ever recorded in the history of intercity semi-professional level rugby league came from the Gurias 18-try riot against Isapeas single.
Even worse, only seven of these tries were converted with 11 unsuccessful.
Worth 22 points, successful conversions would have edged the Gurias past the 100 mark!
Try-scorers for the Gurias were Boas Ruru and Albert Patak with a hat-trick each, Chris Jerry, Nelson Daplin, Ase Boas and Bobby Pau a double each while Dion Aiye, Jacky Markus, Emmanuel John and Joe Bruno each bagged a four pointer in the one-sided affair.
Isapeas’ tireless prop Aaron Mulunga scored the visitors only try.
Kalabond remained true to its moniker again being the ‘graveyard’ for Kokopo visitors, and lived up to that reputation seeing the Crocs virtually assured of the wooden spoon in 2012.
The result was better but not enough however for the other Digicel Cup wooden spoon candidate, Snax Lae Tigers, in Port Moresby against the SNS Port Moresby Vipers.
A spirited return from 18-12 down at halftime by a side determined to turn their season around came to a frustrating halt five minutes from fulltime, via a miraculous field goal by Vipers reserve hooker Noel Joel.
The Vipers scored four tries, three converted to the Tigers’ two converted tries going into the break, but could not add to it, as the visitors put up a hard ‘black line’ in defence in the second stanza.
Halfback Mai Tom scored the only points of the half with his try and conversion five minutes in, keeping the scores locked at 18-18, before Joel’s drop goal.
“It was a great effort, we were in there until the end, and it shows the kind of team we can be, if we want to,” former dual international and coach Stanley Tepend said.
“But still, this is our way forward, our way towards a strong finish by the end of the season, and part of what we want to build on for next season.”