Coach Tepend aiming to cut Tumbe momentum
By JACK AMI
DIGICEL Cup minor premiers Lae Snax Tigers will look to secure the first grand final spot when they meet the Jiwaka Goverment Waghi Tumbe in the major semifinal at the National Football Stadium tomorrow.
The losers play the winners of the minor semifinal between reigning premiers Bintangor Goroka Lahanis and Kroton Hela Wigmen, which kicks off at 3.30pm.
Both teams arrived in Port Moresby yesterday as they look to put the finishing touches to their preparations ahead of the 1pm clash.
The Tigers and Tumbe share the luxury of a second chance but neither side will be taking their foot of the pedal tomorrow as they look to clinch the first grand final spot and have a week off to prepare.
At 12.45pm, Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League chairman Sandis Tsaka will present the minor premiership trophy and K20,000 to the Tigers.
This is the Lae franchise’s fifth minor premiership — 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 — but their main focus is the major title.
Tigers coach Stanley Tepend and his Tumbe counterpart Francis Ray said they were happy with their preparations with neither side having any injury concerns.
“We have an extended squad of 18 players and the final 17 will be named tonight or tomorrow,” Tepend told The National yesterday.
“The players are 100 per cent fit.
“We know that it will not be an easy task as Tumbe have also prepared well for the match.
“Our main focus at training all week was on defence. We worked on denying the opposition from reaching our red zone from the ruck area. We have to cut off any momentum they gain.”
Ray said they were aware of the threat posed by the Tigers.
“We have gone back to the basics to get our defence right. We have to move as a team and stop them from gaining valuable yardage,” he said.
“If we do this from the start, it will complement our hard work in attack. Captain Joe Frank will lead our young side as we look to go out there and play our hearts out against one of the most consistent sides in the competition.”