The National, Monday October 21st, 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
TEMPERS flared and referees were at the centre of attention again as the Port Moresby A grade rugby league preliminary finals were thrown into limbo at the Lloyd Robson Oval yesterday.
The first playoff between Brothers and Souths was stopped short eight minutes before half-time with Souths refusing to play following an alleged dubious call by referee John Kaupa 10-metres out from their try-line.
With Brothers leading 12-8 and their flashy offence in good touch, it was certainly another scoring opportunity beckoning to take a potential 18-8 lead to the break.
But Souths would have nothing of it.
Souths centre Robert Lavatu was about to play the ball when he was pushed by the Brothers tackler and in the process lost the ball.
Kaupa was unsighted and called that Lavatu lost the ball without and called a Brothers scrum.
That infuriated the Souths players who argued with Kaupa, who did not budge.
The Souths players refused to continue playing and called for a change of referee before they played on.
Kaupa was forced to leave and after talks between POMRFL executives, referee’s chief Guma Opi was called in to complete the match.
Then it was the Brothers camp’s turn to erupt and they refused to allow Opi (pictured above) to take charge.
The stalemate led to Opi walking back off and the referee’s refusing to take part further citing that their safety could not be guaranteed.
The opening 32 minutes saw the Brothers dominate play with the opening try to Mathew Kope.
Despite the Souths not settling in well they replied through half-back William Mone piercing the right flank.
Brothers did not waste time scoring their second try to game-breaker Stanley Ollo after a handling error from Souths fullback Willie Ganoi and then threatened to surge away when a decisive break from five-eighth Tilix Kawage led to another four pointer.
Souths managed to claw their way back after taking advantage of prop Ian James being sin-binned to score through Lavatu following a set-play, with Ganoi taking the score to 12-8 before the match was called off.
The other playoff between Magani and Tarangau did not eventuate as well because the referees declined to control any more games.
It is unclear what sanctions, if any, will be placed on the clubs involved.
POMRFL operations manager Meke Maino (pictured left) yesterday said the Souths-Brothers game would continue where it left off this Sunday and the Magani/Tarangau game to be the main match again at this stage.
The winners will play in the grand-final.
Maino said the situation had pushed the demolition of the facilities back another week.