By JACK AMI
COMPETITION leaders Lae Tigers take on the Mendi Muruks in round nine of the Digicel Cup on Sunday.
The fixture at the Joe Keviame Oval in Mendi, Southern Highlands, is part of a double-header, with the Hela Wigmen facing the Gulf Isapea in the other clash at the Tente venue.
With the semi-professional competition having reached its halfway mark, the Tigers, who have been in great form from the get-go, are eyeing the playoffs and more.
Coach Stanley Tepend, who took his side to Kokopo last round and pulled off an improbable 6-4 win over the defending champions Agmark Gurias at the “Graveyard” Kalabond Oval, said his side were building momentum at the right time of the season.
“We had a good, quality game against the Gurias in Kokopo and now we have to back that up with another tough road trip to Mendi,” Tepend said.
“We’re in a good position on the ladder and we’re definitely setting our targets high this year.
“We’ve won the last two minor premierships but what we want is to go all the way and winning tough matches, especially on the road, gives us a lot of confidence.”
The undefeated Tigers recorded a gutsy 20-12 win over the Enga Mioks in round seven before the Gurias match and have the form on-the-road.
The Muruks, who are in sixth spot on the ladder, are coming off the bye and before that thumped the visiting Waghi Tumbe 32-14 at JK Oval.
Under new coach Roderick Puname, the Muruks have turned over a new leaf and could be finals contenders. The Wigmen and the Isapea have stumbled over the last two rounds and are desperate for wins to regain their mojo.
The Isapea have gone off the boil after a positive start to the year, losses to the Gurias (30-0) and the Simbu Lions (30-20) will face another daunting prospect in the Wigmen.
The Hela side has had their own struggles with losses to the Port Moresby Vipers (12-10) and the Waghi Tumbe (16-10) in consecutive games.
In the other matches in Wabag, hosts Enga Mioks have the task off clipping the high-flying Mt Hagen Eagles; the Tumbe take on the Vipers in Minj; and the Gurias are expected to give the out-of-form Goroka Lahanis a thorough working over in Kokopo. Standings: Tigers 15, Eagles 13, Gurias 11, Tumbe 9, Mioks 9, Muruks 9, Wigmen 7, Isapea 7, Vipers 6, Lahanis 6, Lions 3.
By JACK AMI