The National – Friday, June 24, 2011
THINGS do not get any easier for Port Moresby-based franchises Gulf Isapeas and Hela Wigmen this week in round eight of the Digicel Cup.
Despite hosting visiting sides both teams are in for another weekend of tough questions as they fight for credibility in the semi-professional competition.
Isapeas on one point and anchored to the bottom of the ladder, are winless and their chances of victory took a nose dive after the sixth placed Muruks named a full strength team for tomorrow’s encounter at Lloyd Robson Oval.
The returning duo of Joseph Omae (knee) and Roderick Puname (jaw) add class to the former three-time titlists’ line-up and will reignite their combinations with Kumul hooker Charlie Wabo and playmakers Ate Bina Wabo (7) and Kewa Kili (6).
Having played several gruelling matches over the last three rounds Muruks will welcome a respite at the expense of the Isapeas.
Meanwhile, the Gulf side does possess the talent to make life difficult for the Southern Highlanders but judging from last week’s inept display it should be just another day at the office for Omae’s men.
Isapeas continously shot themselves in the foot with a glaring error count against the Mioks and will have hopefully addressed that at training this week.
No one stood up last week for the Isapeas, however veteran Suckling Danage ran strongly and winger Pipi Kilori was a threat when put in space.
On Sunday the Lahanis will roll out their stars to quell the Helas in a match that sees Wigmen desparate for only their second win of the season.
The debutant franchise have so far failed to live up to expectation even with a stellar cast of game breakers and Kumuls.
A side with Jessie Joe Parker, Nixon Kolo and Larsen Marabe should not be languishing one rung from the bottom. Lahanis coach Peter Danga has the luxury of an in-form team with skipper Glen Nami and veterans Nicko Ubile and Tony Dai leading out a pack of young lions headed by boom prop Ganzellex Urakusie.
In the backline, the news is all good with centres Chris Hogi and Thompson Teteh getting the better of most opposition pairings this year.
And then there is fullback Adex Wera, who has evolved into the complete package in just his third season of intercity football.
If there is one criticism of the Lahanis, it is their tendency to play down to their opponents’ level when not challenged.
This will not be a problem though with the Wigmen’s Kumul contingent sure to push the competition pace-setters throughout in a potentially explosive match.
In other matches, Rabaul Gurias will do their best to crack an away win when they play the Enga Mioks in Wabag on Sunday.
The Gurias looked ominous at home dismantling the Wigmen 28-18 last week but are yet to carry that form on the road.
In Lae, homeside Tigers, who were thrashed 36-6 by Lahanis in Goroka last round, take on a Port Moresby Vipers.
Vipers will want to make it two from two on the road after accounting for Mt Hagen Eagles 20-12 at Kagamuga last Sunday.
In Kundiawa, Simbu Warriors host Eagles in a clash which will see the return of Eagles’ Kumul five-eighth Dion Aiye and fowards Sent Angra and Immanuel Kunjin after the trio were suspeneded for disciplinary reasons three weeks ago.