By PARKER TAMBUA
WINGER Andrew Solo’s double helped Central Dabaris bag a 12-8 upset win over Hela Wigmen in round nine of the Digicel Cup at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby yesterday.
Rabaul Gurias surrendered the pole spot after the hosts suffered a shock 22-29 loss to reigning runners-up Waghi Tumbe at the Kalabond Oval, Kokopo, on Saturday.
Mendi Muruks leapfrogged the Gurias and Wigmen into the pole spot on the 12-team ladder after their 35-16 win over visitors Port Moresby Vipers at the Lae Rugby League Ground yesterday.
Solo starred in the Dabaris’ three-try haul while fullback Morea Morea Jr was named as the man of the match.
The Wigmen scored first through Siki Konden in the corner in the 19th minute. Solomon Pokare missed the conversion as they led 4-0.
The Dabaris responded in the 30th minute when Solo made a break and ran 70m to score in the corner. Morea failed to add the extras as the scores were levelled at 4-4.
The Steven Gunua-coached Dabaris hit the lead three minutes later when winger Alex Alungi scored in the corner following a set move by Morea who created an overlap.
The conversion was unsuccessful as the Dabaris led 8-4 at halftime. The Wigmen lifted their tempo in the second half with big runs and tackles led by skipper Valentine Culligan, Joshua Ngoya and Manu Kame.
But the brave Dabaris kept battling as forwards Agiru John, Wallen Tau and Sydney Koi matched the Wigmen contest in the middle.
The Central government-sponsored side extended their lead to 12-4 when Solo completed his double in the 59th minute. Morea again failed to add the extras.
The Wigmen attempted a comeback 15 minutes from fulltime when Whallan Tau-Loi was sent to the bin for bad-mouthing the match referee.
But the Seth Rip-coached side only scored an unconverted try through Messech Wellen as the Dabaris held on for a crucial win yesterday.
The in-form Dabaris have set their sights on improving their campaign with back-to-back wins for the Central men.
Coach Gunua and his men travel to Morobe this weekend where they meet the Mendi Muruks for Sunday’s round ten fixture at the Lae rugby league oval.
Meanwhile, the Muruks defeated the Port Moresby Vipers 35-16 and now occupy the pole spot in the competition.
By PARKER TAMBUA