The National, Monday 29th April 2013
By PHILIP KEPSON
ENGA Mioks coach Timothy Lepa’s gamble on positional changes backfired in a disappointing 19-14 loss to the Port Moresby Stop n Shop Vipers in the third round of the Digicel Cup in Wabag yesterday.
The Engan team, which won their two first home games convincingly against the Lions and Muruks, was struggling from the kick off with regular fullback Jeffrey Maino on the right wing.
The visitors capitalised on their opponent’s weaker defence to score three converted tries in 15 minutes through Gary Lo, Larsen Marabe and Elijah Riyong to take a commanding 14-0 lead.
Lepa tried to reorganise his team by bringing JeffreyMaino back to fullback and Bland Abavu on the wing. But that did not help as the Vipers tightened their grip on the game.
The visitors powerful play from the ruck by Kumuls Charlie Wabo and Israel Eliab ensured the Vipers heavy forwards in Sebestin Pandea, Steven Johnson, Enoch Maki and Marabe set out to complete a winning tour of duty.
The Vipers strong backline defence led by five-eighth Sebestin Junior and centres Michael Mark and Stanely Toroto became an added advantage in their commendable performance.
The home team, with the crowd urging them on, tried all the tricks they had with captain David Loko, devastating forward Esau Siune and outstanding centres Pasu Awani and Tiger Emere taking the lead but their opponent’s better organised defence would not allow them to score.
It was 40 minutes before the Mioks were able to bag an unconverted try through Maino to trail 4-18 at half-time.
The Mioks tried hard, with halves Roger Laka and Mai Tom calling the shots from the ruck but they could not convert a series of opportunities they had with Loko dropping a ball a metre from the try line.
The home team’s last minute effort paid off when they scored a converted try through Tiger Emere to bring the score to 10-18 with nine minutes remaining.
It was late before the Mioks scored through Philip Dama on the far right. Tom failed to collect the extras as they trailed 14-18.
Vipers dazzling half Eliab kicked a goal to push the score to 19-14 as Mioks supporters thought anything could happen in the final minutes.
The home team tried hard but time was against them.