The National, Friday 17th May 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
THE Stop N Shop Port Moresby Vipers need to seriously address their “premiership pretenders” tag.
After five weeks of the Digicel Cup rugby league competition, the Vipers are sitting precariously in fifth spot and in danger of playing out another dour season.
You couldn’t have asked for a better test of their mettle when they take on the in-form Bintangor Goroka Lahanis at the National Sports Institute (NSI) in Goroka on Sunday.
It’s never easy beating the Lahanis at home and if they do it, it will certainly be a test of character of their premiership aspirations.
The battle up-front between Vipers’ Sebastian Pandia, Larson Marabe, Samuel Koim, Enoch Maki and Bobby Mori and the Lahanis’ Wesley Mohokule, Gonzella Urakusie, Nicko Ubile and Bernard Tatsim Jnr will surely dictate the score at the final whistle.
However, with both franchises coming off losses, it is to set the stage for an arm-wrestle that could go either way.
Lahanis coach Peter Warlock last night said they have tidied up on key areas lacking and brought back experienced hand George Abba, playmaker Casey Frank and Yapa Kapu to co-ordinate their direction in attack.
“A win for us is important as we need to get back on track,” Warlock added.
The Gurias back home in Kokopo will be hard to handle for the visiting Mt Hagen Eagles, and should put on a show for the fans especially after a shaky performance against the Gulf Isapea.
In Mendi, the Hela Wigmen look set to record their maiden win when they host the visiting Simbu Lions after five weeks of frustration for coach Stanley Hondina. He has chopped and changed his outfit but should finally see some results with his charges starting to get a roll on with No.6 Kewa Kili getting into his groove.
In Lae, the Mendi Muruks have an uphill battle against the competition leaders Snax Tigers of Lae.
Unless Muruks skipper Wesley Benny inspires his young charges, the Tigers will swamp them with their new-found enthusiasm and ruthlessness.
In Port Moresby, support for Gulf Isapea is expected to increase significantly as they take on another competition heavyweight in the Enga Mioks.
If last week was any indication, Isapea are capable of producing an upset.