Must-win clash for Wigmen


HELA Wigmen face a tough task in their bid to retain the Digicel Cup title as they prepare to meet an in-form Waghi Tumbe in week one of the month-long finals.
The Charlie Wabo-coached reigning premiers, hit with the SP Hunters’ pre-season recruitment of seven of their men, head into the finals without the most ideal preparation after losing four of their last six matches.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Baundo Aba-coached Tumbe are on an eight-game winning streak, having last suffered defeat in round three against second-placed Mendi Muruks.
The top-six finals of Papua New Guinea’s premier rugby league competition will be played in Port Moresby with the Moni Plus-sponsored Vipers to host Rabaul Gurias in the other week-one clash on Sunday.
Sneaking into the finals at the expense of Enga Mioks, the Agmark-sponsored Gurias will head into the match as outsiders with the Joe Sipa-coached Vipers on a six-game winning run.
Meanwhile, minor premiers Lae Tigers and Muruks are on a bye this weekend before they face each other next Sunday for a spot in the Sept 12 grand final at the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
The winners of this weekend’s matches will meet next Sunday for a chance to face the losers of the Tigers-Muruks match on Sept 5. The winners will progress to the grand final.
Tumbe skipper Joe Frank told The National yesterday that the message from former Hunters forward Aba, who heads into the finals for the first time as a coach, remained the same with emphasis still on defence.
“Defence can win you games,” he said.
“Our discipline around the ruck will also be important.”