The National, Monday July 8th, 2013
By PETER PUSAL
THEY maybe long shots for the Digicel Cup rugby league play-offs but the TNA Simbu Lions will rock a few boats between now and the finals.
The Lions posted another victory yesterday at the Dickson Oval in Kundiawa, beating the PRK Gulf Isapea 26-20. The win sees the team tipped in the pre-season to finish in the bottom three, a strong chance to end their 2013 campaign in the middle of the table.
With three more home games from the remaining five rounds, adding another six points to their current 10 does not seem like a mountain too high.
In other matches, the Enga Mioks handed competition leaders Lae Snax Tigers a 30-6 thumping but the match was called off in the 78th minute after rival fans turned on each other, making the Aipus Oval a scene of chaos.
Meanwhile, in Kokopo, the Agmark Rabaul Gurias were too good for a visiting Bintangor Goroka Lahanis, winning 28-4 at Kalabond Oval.
The Eastern Highlanders were not at their usual competitive best, having announced earlier in the week the sacking of coach Peter Warlock.
In Mendi, the Kemele Hela Wigmen continued their good mid-season form, beating the Wamp Nga Mt Hagen Eagles 20-10 while in the nation’s capital the fifth-placed Stop N Shop Port Moresby Vipers had all they could handle from last-placed PRK Mendi Muruks eventually winning 14-12.
Back in Kundiawa, Lions’ boss Gerard Philip was a hard man to please yesterday saying his charges were not as impressive despite getting the result.
“I don’t think we played well. We did not play to the standard we set against the Lahanis (Round 11). That was a game we could have won,” Philip said.
The Frenchman told The National that he would continue to push for improvement in the remiaing games but was not expecting miracles from his boys.
“There wasn’t a lot to be pleased about (in the match against the Isapea). We are making the same mistakes that let us down this season.”
Philip singled out halfback Willie Guambo, who scored a brilliant individual try that proved the match-winner in the second half, but he was also critical of his No.7’s hot and cold form over the past few rounds.
“Willie (Guambo) was our man-of-the-match today. He played better than the rest (Lions) but he has played better. The try in the second half was the highlight of the game for me. Willie broke from halfway and snaked his way through seven defenders. They just stood there and looked at him. But I think our best performance as a team so far was against Goroka. We had something like four tries disallowed that day, all to forward-pass calls by the linesman.”
The Lions trailed 16-14 at halftime but were able get past the Gulf men on the back of their home crowd and Guambo’s heroics.