THE Agmark Rabaul Gurias proved their class and standing as the number one team in the bemobile Cup with a 24-14 victory over Toyota Enga Mioks in the grand final at Lloyd Roboson Oval in Port Moresby yesterday.
But before hoisting the Cup, the Gurias were made to walk through fire as a pumped up Mioks 13 played aggressively, trying to unsettle and outmuscle a Gurias pack with a full complement of stars.
An announcement last week that the Rabaul franchise would be without four of its star recruits was merely a ruse to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, Gurias coach Michael Marum admitted afterwards.
Captain George Moni, Rodney Pora, Dion Aiye and Larsen Marabe were all named in the team, giving the lie to news of their unavailability.
These mind games by the Gurias certainly had an effect as the Mioks came rushing out of the blocks in the first half, intent on dominating the forward clashes.
The Gurias, with a full deck, weathered the expected barrage as a David Ako-led Mioks made up mostly of Ipatas Cup players proceeded to pull off brutal tackles but failed to ruffle the Gurias as Kumul prop Pora went over in the 11th minute next to the uprights after a repeat set in the Mioks half for a 4-0 lead.
Aiye was taken off in the 16th minute after a sickening head clash with Mioks’ counterpart Mose Lam but returned in the second half.
Errors became the norm in the remainder of the first half as both teams were guilty of poor ball security and handling. But it was the Gurias who made better use of their chances with halfback Rolly Matalau slotting two penalties for an 8-0 margin by the 30th minute.
Impressive Mioks winger Jason Tali had an impact with every touch but was not allowed enough space to shine.
Handling errors continued to take the sting out of Mioks surges as their intensity flattened out in the last 10 minutes of the first stanza.
Guiras found another gear as reserve forward Sam Ponda crashed over for a converted try for an ominous 14-0 lead at half-time.
Mioks coach Toksy Nema berated his charges for veering off the game plan in the opening half and called for a return to the basics, “Lets get back down to basics and do the simple things well. “You’ve got 40 minutes to prove that you’re the best,” Nema said trying to inject pride and discipline back into the Mioks.
It worked in the second half as the Mioks outscored Gurias 14 to 10 but the first half deficit was too much of a head start.
Playing much smarter football with halves Mai Tom and Mose Lame along with hooker Joe Goni starting to find time and space Mioks held sway for long periods.
Making use of dummy runners, secondman plays and a varied kicking game Mioks went from a brutalising style to a pressurising one and it paid dividends with Gurias having to call on all their experience to snuff out several promisiing raids.
Gurias recuperative qualities came to the fore again as Matalau broke the line with a duck-and-run effort five metres into Miok territory before throwing a speculator to winger Boaz Ruru steaming onto the ball to out pace the cover defence for a try against the run of momentum.
Matalau converted for a spirit-breaking 20-0 lead over a resurgent Mioks in the 47th minute. Mioks finally gave their fans cause to cheer in the 50th minute when centre Pius Awani scored in the left corner to trail 20-4.
With the Gurias starting to tire Marum brought back Aiye ostensibly for his kicking game and directional play.
Mioks forwards began to off-load and run better angles resulting in prop Esau Siune posting his sides second try of the afternoon.
Mai converted for a 20-10 scoreline with 20 minutes on the clock.
Mioks defence showed it was still effective late in the match with Pora on the end of a bone-rattler but Gurias once again showed control and coolness under pressure and stamped an exclamation mark on the game with the match winner in the 71st minute to the fleet-footed Ruru.
He collected a pass on halfway and sprinted down the right flank turning a backpedalling Miok fullback Thomas Kumgi inside out before scoring for a virtually unassailable 24-10 lead.
To their credit the Mioks never gave up and were rewarded with a consolation try to Tali at the stroke of fulltime.
Guiras 24 (R. Pora, S. Ponda, B. Ruru 2 tries. R. Matalau 2 con, 2 pen) defeated Mioks 14 (P. Awani, E. Siune tries. M.Tom con).