The National, Monday July 1st, 2013
By GABRIEL LAHOC
THE Lae Tigers overcame one of the biggest tests of their character this season coming from behind to shut out the Rabaul Gurias 8-6 yesterday.
It was a thrilling and physical Digicel Cup rugby league encounter which was complemented with a full capacity crowd at the Tigers’ den – the Lae rugby league ground.
The win sees the Tigers reclaim the No.1 spot on the ladder adding on to the news that they were awarded the points for their Round 8 match against the Gulf Isapea which ended in a brawl.
Only two tries were scored, both in the first half, as fans were treated to a game that saw both sides placing a high premium on their defence.
Despite the flashy Gurias being the first to score, it was the Tigers’ defence coupled with the enthusiasm of the homeside’s new halves combination of five-eighth Michael Gawi and halfback Kingston Pisep and their overwhelming possession in the second 40 which starved the Gurias of any of their signature offensive plays.
The visitors were forced to defend consecutive sets by the Tigers in the last 20 minutes of the match.
The first try though was scored by Gurias winger Sowei Waulas capitalised to dive over for a converted try.
A high tackle on Tigers prop Roy Kela saw hooker Noel Joel convert a penalty.
Pisep added a penalty before halftime which saw the homeside trail 6-4 at the break.
Pisep’s pinpoint accuracy with the boot and the hard aggressive defence by forwards Sydney Fred, Kela, Kot Kerua, Petero Sanivalu, Elvis Dick and Ishmael Balkawa was too much for the Gurias.
Captain Fred, who came from a ten minute sin-bin, barged over for their winning try in the final quarter of the match.
“The boys really played from their hearts, nobody stood out everybody stood out it was a great effort from the boys,” Tigers coach Stanley Tepend said describing the day’s play.
“We really dug deep in defence with three to four men gang tackles especially on Mark Mexico and Rodney Pora, you know they are Kumuls,” he added.
This is the Tigers second-last home game with the Gulf Isapea as the only team who have a chance to beat the Tigers on home soil this season in four weeks time.
The win was revenge for the 24-6 loss to the Michael Marum-coached side in Round 3 in Kokopo.