The National – Tuesday, June 14, 2011
By GABRIEL LAHOC
SNAX Lae Tigers roared to their third consecutive win with a five-try 24-18 victory over the WGS Mt Hagen Eagles on Sunday at the Lae rugby league oval.
A new franchise owner, a new attitude and a new lease on life have done wonders for the once under-performing Lae as they continued their winning ways.
Lae businessman and founder of Lae Biscuit Company Sir Henry Chow led a list of prominent citizens who were treated to a memorable entry by the Tigers who “invaded” the field to Survivor’s rock anthem “Eye Of The Tiger” ensuring that fans were pumped for the proceedings.
The Eagles looked to be still in dressing room mode as the Tigers onslaught began in the 5th minute with centre Benson Joel posting the first try.
The match’s first scuffle came soon after, which contributed to the continuous aggression in defence and attack from both sides.
The highlight of the match was the battle of the halves between Tigers’ five-eighth Michael Mexico and half-back Peter Peyala against Eagles’ Alex Appa and Willy Guambo.
Tigers dominated the first half, with a couple of tries coming off from Mexico’s boots for a comfortable 14-0 lead.
Eagles main playmaker Appa executed well but his kicks and runners were well contained by Lae’s backline, especially with winger Russ Kaupa Jr shining with his positional play and strong kick returns.
Eagles winger David Rombuk was no slacker himself, running in two tries for the Western Highlanders in the second half while centre Jason Tali also grabbed a try in the final quarter of the match.
A physical Eagles forward pack led by captain Francis Ray did well to match the Tigers crew fronted by dreadlocked intimidator Jerry Kutz and the rest of the pride in backrowers Joe Wemin, Wanpis James, prop Isaiah Aiya and new enforcer Bernard Pos who came off the bench.
One area of the Tigers’ game that needs more work is their goalkicking with Lae kickers only managing to convert two from five attempts.
Claiming the scalps of the Isapeas, the Wigmen and the Eagles in succession has boosted the new look Tigers and has finally given long-suffering Lae rugby league fans hope of a good season ahead.
Meanwhile, Congo Coffee Simbu Warriors mugged a willing Agmark Rabaul Gurias 26-12 in Kundiawa to continue the former champions poor away record in the Digicel Cup this season.
Warriors five-eighth Andrew Baining was the star for the mountain men, scoring a try and kicking six goals including two first half penalties which saw his team take a 14-4 lead into the break.
Gurias centre Chris Jerry was a constant threat with two second half tries, but they were offset by Warriors own try magnet Sonny Daing and captain Sigfred Gande.
Gurias coach Michael Marum rued the wet track which he said his team could not adapt to as well as the Kundiawa side.
He commended his charges for a brave effort in front of a partisan home crowd and the fact that his team was relatively new to the rigours of intercity rugby league.
Gurias will welcome a return to familiar scenary when they host the struggling Hela Wigmen in Kokopo next Sunday while Warriors will have to contend with the SBSL Mendi Muruks in Lae in round seven matches.