GREETINGS to our rugby league family and welcome to our 22nd edition of “Fulltime Reserve” column for this year, in our favourite rugby league newspaper, The National.
The 2021 PNG National Rugby League Competition has been an exciting and evenly contested season leading to a congested premiership ladder, with the minor premiership and the top six finals spots still undecided until the last round of the competition this weekend.
The reward for the best team for the 2021 regular premiership rounds is the minor premiership shield and the prize is still up for grabs this weekend as the final round of the 2021 competition is played at six provincial venues.
Three teams are in contention for the minor premiership, with the PRK Mendi Muruks currently leading the competition on 18 points while, the Lae Snax Tigers and the JPG Waghi Tumbe, both on 16 points are ready to claim the prize should the Muruks falter against a resurgent and vastly improved Port Moresby Vipers in Lae this weekend.
While the Vipers on 15 points and the Kroton Hela Wigmen on 12 points round up the top 5, the final 6th place in the finals is an even toss-up between four teams, the Enga Mioks, the Rabaul Gurias, the Mt Hagen Eagles and the Gulf Isou, who are all on 7 points, separated only by points differentials going into the final round.
To have nine teams vying for a finals placing in a 12-team competition makes for a very exciting final round of the 2021 Digicel Cup premiership and this is testament to the quality and competitiveness of all the teams that have played out an evenly contested and highly entertaining and unpredictable competition this year.
On behalf of the PNGRFL and our rugby league family across PNG, we acknowledge and commend the PNG National Rugby League Competition (PNGNRLC) board and management and the 12 participating franchises together with their players and officials for another exciting and memorable rugby league season, successfully delivered thus far, in spite of the many challenges and difficulties posed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
We also acknowledge the invaluable support of the naming rights sponsor for the national competition, Digicel PNG Limited and all the partner sponsors of the PNGNRLC together with the sponsors and the partners of the respective 12 franchises who have contributed immensely in cash and kind to ensure the 2021 premiership season is delivered successfully.
We applaud the tremendous support of the thousands of fans and supporters of the respective franchises and the game across PNG, who turned up in their thousands to support their teams and importantly for their conduct and adherence to the ‘Banis Protocol’ guidelines to ensure the games were delivered safely.
As we go into the final round of the 2021 premiership and onto the finals over the next four weeks, we appeal to the teams and the supporters of the game to continue to play and support their teams and the competition in the true spirit of sportsmanship and continue to observe the ‘Banis Protocol’ guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all participants.
Until next week, may the grace, love and care of our Good Lord be with you.