The National, Monday July 15th, 2013
By ELIAS LARI
THINGS turned ugly at Rebiamul oval in Mt Hagen yesterday as Mt Hagen Eagle fans turned on their own players.
The Digicel Cup Round 14 match between the Eagles and the visiting Simbu TNA Lions took a turn for the worse when spectators broke down the field’s fencing to get to Eagles players after Lions’ Robert Damu scored his side’s third try in the 63rd minute.
The Damu try seemed to be the final straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Eagles fans were concerned as the pitch invaders made bee lines for any player in a blue and white jersey and proceeded to assault them.
Up to a 100 people reportedly stormed the field while Eagles management and officials tried to clam the situation but to no avail.
Lions players huddled together in centre filed as the melee went its course.
The Lions were leading 16-4 at the time of the incident which brought the match-up between the second and third last teams in the semi-professional competition.
No serious injuries were reported however the incident has left Eagles players and management as well as Lions players and management in a state of shock.
Lions franchise owner Gerard Philip was left speechless as he witnessed the pitch invasion.
Only last week, Wabag saw some of the worst spectator violence in years with two men dead and property worth thousands of kina destroyed as rival fans fought during the Enga Mioks-Lae Tigers match.
The PNG NRL is yet to make a statement on the incident which involved spectators and did not involve players.
Fan disenchantment at the performance of the franchise is said to be the main reason for the violence.
The Eagles have lost at home on several occassions this season with the heaviest defeat a 44-8 loss to the Lae Tigers in Round 10.
The Eagles have only won four matches this year.
The have lost nine and drawn one in one of the worst performances by the Wampa Nga-sponsored team.
The side has struggled to attract marquee players in 2013 and have relied on local talent from within the province however results have been less than compelling with the Eagles likely to be in a two-way tussle with fellow strugglers the Mendi Muruks for the wooden spoon.
The Lions scored tries to five-eighth Supa Takai and halfback Willie Guambo. Guambo kicked two conversions while for the homeside, Junior Rau scored a try.
The PNG NRL has made it clear that home matches will be taken away from sides who cannot control their fans however the latest development unusual and the competition’s governing body will be expected to act swiftly and decisively in order to prevent other incidents from taking place with four week left in the regular season.