Tigers on the prowl

The National, Friday July 8th, 2016

THE Lae Tigers look set to finish the 2016 Digicel Cup season in top spot to claim their third minor premiership in a row.
The Stanley Tepend-coached side lead the competition with 21 points and face the lowly SNS Port Moresby Vipers, who are third to last, in their Round 13 fixture at the Lae Rugby League Oval on Sunday.
For Tepend claiming a minor premiership is a nice way to end their regular rounds campaign but the former Kumul five-eighth has little time for such accolades preferring to do his talking after winning the major prize.
“To be honest, I’m sick of just winning minor premierships. We’ve finished the last two seasons as minor premiers and that’s great but we haven’t been able to go all the way. Our main goal this year is to win the competition but getting the minor premiership is good too,” Tepend said earlier in the season.
With players of the calibre of former Kumul and Hunters back-rower David Loko, crafty hooker Noel Joel, captain and five-eighth Charles Simon as well as the in-form Pasu Awane in the three-quarters, the Tigers have the artillery to blast into the finals from this position.
The Lae Biscuit Company-backed side are coming off a bye and will be refreshed and ready to complete the last four rounds without too much hassle considering they have three home games.
The Snax Tigers face the second-placed Hagen Eagles in Lae in Round 14 before taking on the PRK Gulf Isapea in Port Moresby in Round 15 before ending the regular season at home against the travelling Simbu Lions.
The game against the Eagles is shaping up to be the minor premiership decider but the other clashes are against easier prey.
In the round’s other matches, the Isapea’s finals hopes will be put to the test when they host the Waghi Tumbe at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium in Port Moresby.
The sides drew 22-22 in their Round 2 encounter in Minj and the return match is the moment of truth for the big improvers in 2016.
In Wabag, the Enga Mioks are favoured but their opponents the TNA Simbu Lions used to the constant travel and hitting form at the right time of the season could cause a boil over at Aipus Oval.
In Mendi, the Kemele Hela Wigmen should have no problems against the Bintangor Goroka Lahanis, who are favourites for the wooden spoon, given their poor run of form this season.
In Mt Hagen, the Wamp Nga Eagles host the unpredictable Mendi Muruks. The Eagles have too much at stake and will find a way to win which will set up next week’s clash with the Tigers.
Fixtures: Rd 13, Sun, July 9 – Lions vs Mioks (Wabag), Wigmen vs Lahanis (Mendi), Eagles vs Muruks (Hagen), Isapea vs Tumbe (Port Moresby),Tigers vs Vipers (Lae). Bye: Gurias.
Standings: Tigers 21, Eagles 19, Mioks 17, Gurias 16, Tumbe 13, Wigmen 12, Muruks 12, Isapea 11, Vipers 9, Lions 8, Lahanis 6.