By MICHAEL PHILIP
RABAUL Gurias coach Francis Ray has praised his fringe players for stepping up to help the hosts to Saturday’s 30-14 win over Goroka Lahanis at the Kalabond Oval in Kokopo.
The Papua New Guinea Kumuls legend told The National that he was impressed to see the new faces perform to expectations despite limited opportunities.
“It’s great to see the new faces perform,” he said.
“We didn’t have Ase Boas (work), Garry Lo (hamstring injury), Joe Frank and John Ragi Jr (both rested), but the new guys slotted in well.
“They’ll build on that experience as the season continues.”
The Agmark-sponsored Gurias opened the scoring via a try by second-rower Pasala Kolo, but five-eighth Saki Peter missed the conversion to lead 4-0 10 minutes in.
The hosts extended their lead with a try through winger Walter Benjamin to lead 10-0 at halftime.
After the break, the Bintangor-sponsored Lahanis responded through winger Manu Olam who crossed over for an unconverted try to trail 4-10.
The Gurias extended their lead to 18-4 with back-to-back unconverted tries through brothers Walter and Chris Benjamin.
The visitors rejigged their backline to put more pressure on the hosts and it paid off when centre Kafu Ken scored the Lahanis’ second unconverted try to trail 8-18.
Gurias halfback Mark Alunga produced an individual try under the uprights and Peter added the extras to extend their lead to 24-8.
Lahanis winger Amos Kafare returned the favour with an individual effort of his own as he sliced through for their last try and No.6 Roger Kenny added the extras.
But the Gurias had the final say when Peter sealed the win with a late converted try to help Ray’s men retain the second spot on the 12-team ladder.
Meanwhile, disappointed with the loss, Lahanis coach Gonzella Urakusie said his men would aim to improve their defensive efforts on their return from a competition-wide break.
By MICHAEL PHILIP