The National, Monday 13th May 2013
THE Digicel Cup is a much closer rugby league competition than expected in 2013.
The high flying Goroka Lahanis were mugged in Wabag 36-12 by previously twice beaten Enga Mioks in a match that displayed the pride and determination of the Engans.
In Port Moresby the side that could be this season’s fairytale the Gulf Isapea earned the respect from opponents and fans alike for their stirring performance against the reigning premiers, the Rabaul Gurias, losing 28-26 to the Kokopo team in a match that could have easily been a victory for the Kerema boys.
With the memory of their 70-point thrashing to the Gurias last year in the back of their minds, the Isapea’s battle for recognition took a big step forward when they came within a hair’s breadth of winning their third match in a row and claiming easily the biggest scalp in their short history.
In other matches, the winless Simbu Lions finally cornered a win downing the Mt Hagen Eagles 24-16 in their Kundiawa stronghold to the delight of TNA boss Gerard Philip.
That victory as well as the Lae Tigers’ gritty 24-6 win over the more fancied Port Moresby Vipers in Lae proves that the competition is more open with teams that have inhabited the lower half of the ladder over the last two seasons have finally bridged the gap.
The game in Mendi between the Mendi Muruks and Hela Wigmen ended in a 4-4 draw.
That match is the lowest scoring affair so far this year.
It also had significance as the first match between the two teams that call the Joe Keviame rugby league ground home.
The Gurias escape notwithstanding, the Mioks win over Goroka and the continued rise of the Tigers sees a group of six, and possibly seven, sides capable of having a fair crack at making the top five and winning the competition.
Round 5 Results: Isapea 26 Gurias 28, Mioks 36 Lahanis 12, Lions 24 Eagles 16, Muruks 4 Wigmen 4, Tigers 24 Vipers 6.
Ladder: Gurias 8, Tigers 8, Lahanis 8, Mioks 6, Vipers 6, Eagles 5, Isapea 4, Muruks 2, Lions 2, Wigmen 1.