The National , Monday, May 30, 2011
By KEVIN TEME
NO love was lost between the Snax Lae Tigers and Prima Small Goods Gulf Isapeas when they clashed at Lloyd Robson oval yesterday with the Tigers recording a 24-18 win to open their account in the Digicel Cup.
Isapeas were the first to score from a penalty by halfback Junior Aria.
The Isapeas looked likely to score but their defence let them down which saw the Lae side capitalise outscore the Gulf men five tries to Isapeas three.
Tigers’ tries came through winger John Waka, who scored twice in the first half, while veteran James Meninga added another converted try in the first quarter of the match for a 16-8 halftime lead.
Isapeas’ forward Suckling Danage posted a try for his team in the 18th minute.
Back to back tries by Jason Koivi in the 54th minute and winger Makara Ura in the 66th minute put all the momentum back with the homeside at 18-16.
Tigers Wanpis James bulldozed his way over the line in the 73rd minute to take the lead 20-18.
Hooker Dama Philip then put the icing on the cake with a try in the 79th minute for Tigers to come away victors in what was a real armwrestle.
This was typified when midway through the second half a late tackle by Lae forward Jerry Kutz sparked an all-in brawl – Kutz was binned for his dangerous play.
It was clear both sides would not take a backward step.
Isapeas coach Chris Enara conceded that his side’s inexperience at playing intercity standard was a learning curve for them as a team.
“We (Isapeas management) don’t have exceedingly high expectations of our boys right now as they are new to this level of football.
“It will be a bonus if we can win a game at least,” Enara said.
Tigers’ win has them in good spirits and looking forward to hosting the Hela Wigmen next Sunday Lae.
Tiger’s coach Joe Verani credited his charges for staying positive and working for the win after starting the season with three losses on the trot.
“If the boys had put their head down in earlier games and concentrated on footy, we would have similar results like now,” Verani said.
Meanwhile, Wantok Gaming System Mt Hagen Eagles ushered in their first home game edging NGIP Agmark Rabaul Gurias 16-14 in an evenly contested battle at the Kagamuga oval in Mt Hagen.
In Wabag, Mioks beat the Hela Wigmen 28-20.