By LARRY ANDREW
HARLEQUINS claimed double honours in Lae on Saturday, winning the premier and A grade titles in the Morobe Rugby Union.
In the A grade division match, the Honibrook-sponsored club took out the title, beating Vikings 21-18.
The premier grade game saw a good crowd come to the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium to see the city’s best rugby clubs clash in the this year’s decider.
Harlequins were first on the scoreboard when referee Joseph Wamapiri penalised Royals for a dangerous tackle on Harlequins tighthead prop Bojay Bogan.
Harlies first five-eighth Beno Palasip made no mistake putting his side 3-0 in front.
The Consort Express Lines-sponsored Royals responded by holding on to possession and working over the Harlies defence off rucks and at the breakdown as they continuously asked questions of the defence.
But the Harlies defence held firm and errors crept into Royals game.
Harlies added further pain to the Royals efforts when Palasip scored next to the uprights.
The Harlequins vice-captain converted his own try for his side to go 10-0 in front after 31 minutes.
Royals made one last push in the half to get on the score board but their all-out attack saw them lose the ball deep in Harlies territory only for flier Francis Lueni to gather the spill and sprint to the try-line before offloading to a support player, who found No.8 John Ephraim to score giving Harlies a 17-0 lead at halftime.
Royals played much more disciplined rugby in the second-half, pinning Harlequins in their territory with the injection of brothers Lionel and Labi Elias adding power to the pack, creating space for Joseph Simung to score out wide to trail 17-5.
Inspired by Simung’s try, Royals turned up the intensity in the latter part of the half, with Laho Posu scoring a five-pointer and Leslie Mogua converting for the men in blue to trail 17-12.
But that was as far as they got as time ran out on them.
The K250 man-of-the-match award sponsored by Dragons Entertainment Centre went to Harlequins fullback Max Vali. Harlequins 17 (B.Palasip, J.Ephraim tries; Palasip 2 con, pen) Royals 12 (J.Simung, L.Posu tries; L.Mogua con) HT: 17-0 (Harlequins) at SIK Stadium, Lae.
By LARRY ANDREW