Tigers win grand final thriller


A 31-metre field goal by Lae Tigers skipper Charles Simon earned his side an 11-10 win over the Agmark Gurias in golden point extra time of the Digicel Cup rugby league grand final on Saturday.
Hundreds of Tigers fans flooded the field after the ball sailed through the uprights while Simon was swamped by his teammates as celebrations rang out from all corners of the stadium.
The match-winning play came after more than 95 minutes of football at the Sir John Guise Stadium as the scores were locked at 10-10 after a torrid 80 minutes controlled diligently by referee Paul Wani.
The 10 minutes of extra time failed to find a winner and it was only in golden point extra time that Simon snatched victory in dramatic fashion.
The win gave coach Stanley Tepend’s side their second premiership in as many years and stamped the Morobe franchise as one of the country’s most consistent clubs after they had finished on top of the standings for four straight seasons and won the Melanesian Cup beating the Suva Aviators earlier this year.
The low-scoring final saw both sides go close to scoring tries only to come up short, held up over the line, be denied by desperate cover defence or have play called back for an earlier infringement.
The Gurias were on the board first through centre John Ragi Jr who stood up opposite Pasu Awani to slam the ball over the line in the 16th minute for a 4-0 lead.
Nuggetty Tigers wing Billy Paul hit back for his side in the 21st minute thanks to great lead up work by fullback Joe Joshua who draw centre Eliam Lukara and William Aquila to clear a route for the No.2.
The Tigers went to the break 6-4 in front and it was Lae men that scored first after the interval through a smart run by centre Enoch Sine who took advantage of a back pedalling Gurias line to dart over in the 53rd minute.
At 10-4 the match see-sawed for a period as neither side could gain any ascendency as the errors piled up.
Joshua looked to have put his side in a commanding position with a piece of individual brilliance in the 63rd minute but was called back for running behind one of his own men.
The East New Britons levelled the scores when five-eighth Jason Missian sliced through a gap between Awani and back-rower Tiger Emere to score under the posts.
At 10-10 and with 10 minutes left the sides looked to work the ball into field goal range but were foiled by equally desperate defence – this scenario repeated itself until the final hooter.
Tepend praised his men for an impressive defensive effort.
“I want to thank my boys for a tremendous effort in defence and to win the premiership once again. I also want to thank the Gurias for putting up a very good challenge,” Tepend said. The Tigers were on the wrong end of a penalty count conceding 10 and only earning two throughout the entire final.
In contrast they committed only 10 errors to the Gurias’ 16.
Lae Tigers 11 (Billy Paul, Enoch Sine tries; Noel Joel con, Charlie Simon field goal) Agmark Gurias 10 (John Ragi Jr, Jason Missian tries; Jason Missian con) at Sir John Guise Stadium. H/T: 6-4 (Tigers).

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