REIGNING inter-city premiers SBS Muruks will be throwing everything at the Masta Mak City Rangers to keep their cup defence hopes alive when they head into the knock-out stage of bemobile Cup finals on Sunday at the Kagamuga show ground in Mt Hagen while in the other match, Toyota Enga Mioks attempt to bring their winning form to Lae when they go head to head with Bintangor Lahanis.
Minor premiers Agmark Guria enjoy the bye.
Muruks coach Stanely Hondina in an interview from Lae with The National yesterday said his team would be firing on all cylinders to get past week one of the finals.
“I’m not banking on any individual but it will be a team effort, and of late the squad has been playing more as a team,” Hondina said.
“We respect the Rangers and know what they’re capable of but I’m confident we have the personnel and game to get past them,” the former Kumul said.
It would also be a great time to exact revenge for earlier losses in the season when the Rangers had the better of the Muruks.
There are no second chances in this match up with the loser bowing out for the season.
Former Kumul secondrower, Joseph Omae leads the team while halves Andrew Sam and Steven Kua have a big task in directing play.
The Rangers, on the other hand, will be aiming for more of the same after out-muscling minor premiers, Agmark Guria, last week in Port Moresby.
With their forward oriented style they will test the Muruks defence in the middle of the ruck however with the absence of skipper, and number one yardage gainer, Nixon Kolo along with goal kicking rake Benjamin Tomben it could a significant loss of talent.
Ranger’s hard men in Johnson Kuike, Leonard Otmar, Charles Onguglo and Francis Ray must dominate a Muruks pack of lesser lights for the Port Moresby franchise to progress.
Meanwhile, Goroka rugby league president Pat Siwi called for supporters of the Lahanis to show up in numbers to steel the Lahanis who are attempting to reclaim the premiership after a last winning in 2003.
Siwi suspended the finals of the Goroka rugby league in order to encourage Eastern Highlanders to flock to Lae for the big match.
Lahanis coach Peter Danga named a strong side that would be aiming to get square after a 14-40 hammering at the hands of the Mioks in Wabag last month.
Danga said with forward main stay Nigel Hukula and attacking centre Garnet Auwo not considered for PNG Prime Minister’s XIII they team had retained its edge it was time for pay back. However without starting backrowers Glen Nami and Sigfried Gende on ministerial duties, the Lahanis look vulnerable in the middle. Veterans John Milba, Hukula and Bafinuc Ilai will have to be on the ball in order to contain marauding Mioks side.
For the Engan franchise reinstated coach Toksy Nema has been a blessing in disguise, after taking the reins mid-season amidst controversy and disarray in the Mioks camp. He has molded a hungry pack of forwards into an effective unit whilst setting down tactics good enough to beat all other top five teams. The question is can he get his charges to continue the sublime form in the business end of the bemobile Cup? Confidence and form is what the Mioks have plenty of and also the backing of Governor Peter Ipatas should stir up Enga’s pride for another powerhouse performance.