The National, Monday 17th June 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
A MISSED penalty on the stroke of full-time denied the PRK/Prima Gulf Isapea a major upset over the Bintangor Goroka Lahanis in the Digicel Cup at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby yesterday.
With the match locked at 12-12 and with a minute to go, nippy halfback Joshua Thomas was given the shot at goal but agonisingly missed the opportunity.
Isapea coach Nigel Hukula was looking for hair to pull out as they had an easier opportunity earlier but had opted to tap and run.
Despite missing several key players on suspension, the Crocodiles went toe to toe with their more aggressive counterparts to dominate the second-half after being down 10-4 at half-time.
The Isapea dominated territory in the first-half but the Eastern Highlanders had their noses in front with tries from winger Spiro Mikaive and rake Yapa Kapu.
The Gulf men could only manage a try to inter-change back Nelson Wallen.
The Lahanis tried to ignite the second-half through their big men in Nicko Ubile, George Abba, Gonzella Urakusie and Wesley Mohokule, but the never-say-die defensive effort from the Isapea denied them.
The Lahanis, seeing no way through, kicked a penalty to take a 12-4 lead.
But from there, the Isapea looked to be more constructive in their plays and should have kept play in the Lahanis territory had it not being for their ill-discipline.
Isapea hit back when Thomas caught the latter napping from a quick tap to slice through weary defenders to get them back on track.
Then the high-flying Karo Kauna Junior snapped up a well-rehearsed cross-kick down the left-flank from five-eighth Willie Martin to score the try of the match and level the scores.
Isapea could have got themselves over easily had they landed their conversions.
Lahanis coach Peter Warlock was disappointed with the draw and queried the ruling by referee Guma Opi and the linesman to disallow a try to centre Kevin Inagafa in the second-half.
“We must be consistent with our rulings week in week out, rather than killing the game,” he said.
Isapea 12 (N. Wallen, J. Thomas, K. Kauna Jnr tries) Lahanis 12 (S. Mikaive, Y. Kapu tries; H. Urakusie 1 pen, 1 con).