IT’S a must-win game for defending premiers SBS Muruks as they take on Toyota Mioks in Lae this Sunday to keep their hopes for an historic fourth consecutive title defence alive in the bemobile Cup challenge.
While the Mioks have their placing on the final five slightly assured with three games remaining, it is an uphill battle for the Southern Highlands franchise given their precarious fifth position on the ladder on nine points.
A four-point buffer separates the Lae-based Muruks from the top four while only two points above two teams following them, and they must win the remaining three games to ensure a spot in the final five.
Muruks are four points behind Mioks (third) and Bintangor Lahanis (fourth), who are both on 13 points, while CIVPAC NCD Vipers and Bintangor Hagen Eagles are on seven points apiece.
It is up to coach Stanley “Magician” Hondina to make good use of his aces in current Kumuls Jessie Joe Parker, Anton Kui, Joseph “Workhorse” Omae and Rodderick Puname assisted by experienced campaigners in Paulus Mondo, Andrew Sam, Andrew Baine , Steven Kua, Erick Wane, Joshua Molsi, Joshua Poria, Terry Toa and Sova Milfred to pull all stops on Sunday.
With such a depth of big game experience across the paddock, Hondina’s men have no excuse but deliver to the thousands of fans, some of whom are likely to travel down the Highlands Highway for the game.
Mioks with some exciting young talents will be driving down to Lae beaming with confidence after walloping an experienced Lahanis 40-14 in Wabag last Sunday and their early season 16-14 defeat of the Muruks.
But in the humidity of the Huon Gulf coast, the Highlands-based franchise are in for a different ball game against an acclimatised Muruks who are used to pressure football with a big supporter base and reputation to play for.
A Muruks defeat of the Mioks and a Lahanis loss to second placed Masta Mak Rangers in Goroka would enhance the hopes of the Mendi men making history.
That is easier said than done with Lahanis having a home-ground advantage and some of the competition’s finest ball-playing forwards in Kumul Siegfred Gande, Nigel Hukula and Glen Nami and a classy young backline at their disposal.