The National, Monday, May 23, 2011
By KEVIN TEME
SNS Port Moresby Vipers lock forward Sebastian Pandia was outstanding helping his team defeat Toyota Enga Mioks 18-10 at Lloyd Robson Oval in week three of the Digicel Cup yesterday.
The Vipers scored two tries, one through right centre Kevin Frank and winger David Keai, including a penalty goal by Pandia, to put the home team in a commanding 12-0 lead at the break before adding a converted try in dying minutes of the second half to seal the victory.
It was a day of celebration for the Vipers faithful, with crowd favourite Pandia bagging a well-deserved man-of-the-match award with his high workrate on defence and attack in the middle of the ruck.
Former Gurias star Frank scored in the 7th minute before a 20th minute touchdown by Keai injected confidence into the home side.
Vipers stamped themselves as genuine Digicel Cup contenders when they contained a fired-up Mioks in a tense encounter.
The Mioks did themselves no favours with high error count virtually killing off any momentum.
Vipers halves combination of skipper Peter Paulus and Roger Laka made use of the good foundation set up by hooker Noel Joel and forwards Stanley Korowa, Timothy Komane and Pandia.
Sova Milfred – a former winger – is still inexperienced as a playmaker at this level an offered little for the Mioks. The inevitable Mioks fightback was launched in the second half when forward Timothy Clement got within several metres of the tryline before utility Nathan Anjo raced in untouched to trail 12-4.
Mioks skipper David Loko broke the line minutes later leaving a strewn of defenders in his wake before setting Keron Kelo to score under the posts and Clement raised the flags cut the deficit to 12-10.
It was a heart-stopping 15 minutes of the match with both sides increasing their intensity in defence and attack but the Vipers had the last laugh putting the game beyond doubt when fullback Joshaia Abavu scored a converted try two minutes before time.
Pandia converted three from four while Clement converted one goal.
In the other games, SBS Muruks came from behind to beat brother team Hela Wigmen 11-10 in a very entertaining football match at the Lae rugby league ground.
In Goroka, defending champions Bintangor Goroka Lahanis ran over Wantok Gaming Systems Mt Hagen Eagles 22-4 at the National Sport Institute while the Kongo Coffee Simbu Warriors finally registered a win defeating a luckless Snax Lae Tigers 20-14 in Kundiawa.
Lahanis lead the competition on six points and will look to continue their great start to the Digicel Cup when they hosts the provincial neighbours Warriors next Sunday at NSI.
The Mioks stay on in the nation’s capital to take on a Wigmen outfit still smarting after their narrow loss to Muruks.
The Vipers will test their away credentials when they face Muruks in Lae next Sunday while Isapeas and Tigers clash next Saturday in Port Moresby.