By PARKER TAMBUA
MENDI Muruks retained the top spot after they repelled a second-half Tigers comeback to win 16-12 in round 11 of the Digicel Cup in Lae on Saturday.
Leading 12-6 at halftime, the Muruks held on to record their ninth win of the season despite losing the second stanza 4-6 to the fourth-placed Tigers at the Lae Rugby League Ground.
At the Kalabond Oval in Kokopo, East New Britain, Rabaul Gurias – boasting the best attack and defence of the 12-team competition – retained the second spot with a 30-14 sinking of visitors Goroka Lahanis.
Heavyweights Port Moresby Vipers fell further behind in the race for the top-six with 14-20 loss to hosts Kimbe Cutters at Sir Peter Humphrey Oval in West New Britain.
Meanwhile, Hela Wigmen recorded their eighth win of the season as they edged Gulf Isou 14-12 at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
The loss saw Petroleum Resource Kutubu-sponsored Isou drop out of the top-six for the first time this season.
Central Dabaris climbed three places to sixth spot, thanks to their 40-18 win over last season’s losing grand finalists Waghi Tumbe.
The Wigmen opened the scoring through a Siki Konden unconverted try on the edge 15 minutes in.
Isou responded five minutes later through halfback Michael Timothy who evaded a couple of Wigmen defenders to score under the uprights.
David Joseph kicked the conversion which give them the two-point lead at halftime.
The game was in the balance after the break with both sides having an equal share of possession and attacking opportunities.
The Wigmen regained the lead in the 57th minute when fullback Sylvester Bulu danced his way past the Isou defence to score beside the uprights. Allan Simberi’s conversion saw the Kroton-sponsored side lead 10-6.
Six minutes later, centre Junior Igila extended the Wigmen’s lead to 14-6 after he stepped and fended his way past the Isou defence to score a try in the corner.
Simberi missed the conversion which gave Isou hope of a comeback 10 minutes from fulltime.
Isou scored a converted try in the 74th minute through utility Jerry Teme who set the stage for a thrilling finish.
Eliakim Lukara almost scored the match winner in the 79th minute when he won a kick chase, but the Isou centre failed to ground the ball with control.
Results: Sat, July 2 – Dabaris 40 Tumbe 18, Gurias 30 Lahanis 14, Cutters 20 Vipers 14, Eagles 12 Mioks 26, Wigmen 14 Isou 12, Tigers 12 Muruks 16.
By PARKER TAMBUA