DEFENDING champions SBS Muruks are making a late surge in a bid to defend their title in the bemobile Cup competition.
The Southern Highlanders made their intentions known in no uncertain terms yesterday, when they pulled the plug on Civpac NCDC Vipers’ hopes of making the finals with a gritty 20-16 victory at the Lloyd Robson Oval.
The game kicked off half an hour behind schedule yesterday because Port Moresby referees boycotted local games over non-payment of match fees.
In other bemobile Cup games around the country, Toyota Mioks walloped Bintangor Lahanis 40-14 in Wabag, Agmark NGIP Guria shot down PNGACTL Bombers 12-6 in Lae and Masta Mak Rangers took the wind out of Bintangor Eagles’ sails 22-12 in Madang.
“It’s a road we have trodden before,” a jubilant Muruks coach Jack Kereme said after the win over the Vipers yesterday, referring to the Muruks’ resurgence in past three SP Cup seasons to bag back-to-back premierships.
“We have been victims of some disappointing losses over the past couple of weeks but we are back on track to defend our title,” Kereme said.
The Muruks, currently perched on the fifth rung of the competition ladder on nine points with three matches in hand, had to pull out all stops in the second half of the match yesterday to claim victory.
Taking a precarious 14-8 lead into the second half, the Muruks conceded the lead, when star Vipers fullback Felix Tangue scored a double in a space of 11 minutes in the 45th and 56th minute for the hosts to take a shaky 16-15 lead.
As the clock wound down to time, utility backliner Roderick Puname completed a backline move that caught the Vipers defence napping to touch down wide and deny the Vipers the points.
Man of the match Muruks front rower Paulus Mondo said the win yesterday was the ultimate result of the desire to win.
“We were hungry for it and we achieved just what we set out to do,” the former Port Moresby Tarangau enforcer said.
Vipers coach Chris Enara was bitterly disappointed that the Vipers did not lift their performance yesterday.
“We needed this one,” he said, “but it was not to be.”
Muruks 20: A Kui, S Milfred, T Toa, R Puname tries, A Sam (2 field) goals beat Vipers 16: F Tangue (2), D Wallen, S Maniat (2) goals.