The National, Monday 30th July 2012
By KEITH PUARIA
ENGA Mioks almost paid for an unimaginative attacking display against a hardened Gulf Isapeas side in yesterday’s Digicel Cup PRL match in Port Moresby. Halfback Roger Laka scored a miracle try and converted it to lift his side 14-10 win in the last 40 seconds to keep his side in second place behind the Agmark Gurias on the ladder.
It was obvious from the opening exchanges that the visitors had come to the city with ‘gritted teeth’, but no one would have actually guessed that the cellar-dwellers would turn out with the hardest defensive effort of the competition, only a week after getting trashed 86-4.
Besides Laka’s miraculous four-pointer, and skipper David Loko’s courageous efforts at the death, it was the Isapeas that looked like the team fighting confidently to stay in the top five of the competition.
The intensity of the body collisions in the tackle and constant hustle for territory up the middle was enjoyed.
“Em klostu end blo season so olgeta team bai strong (it’s almost the end of the season so all teams are going to be tough),” Loko said.
“Wanpla strongpla game stret ol givim na lucky tasol na mipla no give ap (They gave us a very strong game, and we were just lucky we didn’t give up).
Isapeas went to the break with a 10-4 lead from tries to centre Heni Herea and hooker Junior Belo, against Mioks’ try to Paul Kambi.
The constant pounding at the tackles continued into the second half. It was even harder for the Mioks against the wind.
Reserve fullback Jeffery Maino dived over on the left corner to bring the Mioks to 8-10 10 minutes into the half but the match winning chance 20 minutes later was a total blunder.
Wing Oliver Kerry darted over for what could have been the sealer in the 30th minute, but a dumb decision to bring it closer to the sticks in-goal backfired when he put a foot on the dead-ball line on his way to the centre.
All set to win the game of their lives, they hung on till livewire Lakas ‘heartbreaker’.
“We were under the pump all week, and had to regroup. I am proud, the boys stood tall today. It says a lot about attitude coming from a trashing the previous week,” Coach Chris Enara said.
Mioks Coach Toksy Nema was a relieved man.
“We underestimated them a little and found it hard at the end, but they (Isapeas) were very strong today,” Nema said.