Tigers setting the pace

Tigers’ Enoch Sine in action during their 30-10 win over the Rabaul Gurias in the Digicel Cup major semifinal in Port Moresby a fortnight ago. – Nationalfilepic

AFTER nine-straight wins in the Digicel Cup competition, defending champions Lae Snax Tigers conceded two-straight loss to end the normal round challenges.
But you should think twice before writing off the Lae Biscuit Company-sponsored side after they thrashed minor premiers Rabaul Gurias 30-10 in the major semifinal to advance to Sunday’s grand final.
In the 11-round regular season, the Tigers recorded nine-straight wins before faltering in the final two matches against the Wigmen and Port Moresby Vipers.
Nevertheless, the nine-straight wins set the stage for the Tigers to walk into finals football despite surrendering the minor premiership to the Rabaul Gurias.
That is the benchmark set by the Tigers.
The Tigers accepted the two-straight losses with themselves to blame and regrouped to return the next round. It’s not the end of the season and that’s what finals football fever is all about. The closer it gets, the tougher it becomes.
Tigers are not new to the scenario and will hold their heads high, having set the benchmark this season.
Football is always a game played between two sides with the better team coming out the winners.
But creating trademarks and aspirations on and off the field has become the cornerstone of what makes a successful player and team.
Rugby league, being the No.1 sport in PNG, can only be a learning tool for the rest of PNG to learn from the levels of the game played and the management of footy set by the Tigers and its franchise ownership.
That is the driving charisma put forward by the Tigers and becomes the backbone for the rest of PNG and other franchises if they are to beat the Tigers.
The question to be asked, where is the gratification in defeating the Tigers when there is more to it than the glory that is lacking to defeat the influence and impact of the Tigers off-field.
You can’t measurably state that defeating the Tigers is your glory but rather worth the extra effort.
In a way, it’s a blessing knowing that other teams want to beat the Tigers but how do we beat Tigers who keep on pushing the limit. So in the long run, it does rugby league a whole lot of good to push players to the elite level on the field.
Everyone tries to emulate the achievement of the Tigers and in a way, it’s good for the code what the Tigers are doing to elevate the code in PNG.
“The team are a trendsetter, encouraging other teams to step up both on and off field,” 2012 tigers coach Steven Malum says.
Malum adds that you can’t compare the level of investment the Chow family has put into the Tigers.
‘’There is no comparison in terms of what the company is doing for the players, management and coaching staff,” he said.
The opportunities for the players to determine their future has been well looked after by the Lae Biscuit Company.
“With the community approach taken by Ian and Adrian Chow, it has been a give-and-take approach that is working,” Malum said. Tigers coach Stanley Tepend says the Tigers always aim to reach the grand final.
To get there requires hard work but smarter approaches to stay on top of the rest and it’s really down to confidence at the end of the day.
“Nothing more, nothing less. Once you’re out there on the field, anything can happen. The ball bounces in different directions,” Tepend said.
Tepend has been prudent in managing his side and there is no room for complacency.
With a shorter season this year, it would have been a harder prediction for everyone but surely for the Tigers it is simply about getting in there and winning at all costs.
Tigers product and Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam says the backing of the Tigers has been tremendous.
‘’Thank you very much to Lae Biscuit Company and the franchise and the standard has been set for the rest of PNG,” he says.
Until then, may the best team win the Digicel Cup grand final on Sunday.

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