By ZACHERY PER
THE Sir Danny Leahy rugby league grounds in Goroka, Eastern Highlands province, came alive for the first time this year with feast of rugby league action as the Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup challenge got underway.
Twelve teams from both within and outside of Goroka town participated in the three-day tournament.
Divided into three pools, they played from Friday to Sunday and teams that won three straight games with high percentage automatically qualified for the finals in Lae on March 28.
Tondo Blades Titans from Lopi proved too good in pool A to qualify for the finals, ahead of Humilaveka Hawks, Oxford Gama Gusave and Siane Watabung.
In pool B, Nowek Royals secured the spot for the finals after lodging a successful appeal against Coffee Connections West, who failed to affiliate before the closing date on Feb 16.
However, West completed their registrations last Friday and insisted on competing and were allowed to play resulting in them defeating Royals 12-8.
Local judiciary Peter Warlock ruled Wests out and accepted Royals advanced on to play in the finals in Lae.
Warlock said West were at the liberty to appeal to the national judiciary headed by Supt Joseph Tondop.
The games committee wa yet to decide a winner yesterday as teams in pool C ended in a tie.
Teams in pool C are Mukito Cowboys, Zogi Zoga Nokotis, Yondu Warriors and X-Sol Country.
The 12 teams comprised of some bemobile Cup players who led young talents from the rural and settlement areas into the field and won the hearts of many rugby league followers and supporters.
Warriors president Andrew Kimson lauded the concept of Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup challenge, saying it was really exposing hidden talents.
He said the challenge was allowing these talents to expose themselves.
“We will prepare well and come good next year,” Kimson said.
Coffee Connections West coach Jeffery Goive commended the efforts of Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup chief executive officer (CEO) Timothy Lepa, chairman Walis Pigin and technical director John Passingan for successful coordination of the game.
X Sol Country representative Robert Kaupa said the committee had worked hard in putting together such a tournament to expose raw talents in the province.
“We are now looking forward to coming better prepared next year,” Kaupa said.