By JACK AMI
PAPUA New Guinea Digicel Cup competition leaders Lae Tigers beat Mendi Muruks 24-22 in a game that was disrupted in the 77th minute by missile-throwing Muruks fans at the Joe Keviame Oval in Mendi on Sunday.
The result is undeclared, pending the outcome of an appeal by the Muruks to the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League.
Tigers centre Pasu Awane, who stood out for the visitors, scored the winning try after a sweeping movement by the Lae side after earning a penalty to get in good field position.
Referee James Kundi from Mt Hagen awarded the try when angry fans started to throw objects onto the field of play.
Kundi was hit in the back by a missile, as was a Tigers player.
Muruks team management and spectators accused Kundi of being biased and questioned the use of a Lae-based referee as a sideline official.
Kundi put a Muruks official on report for verbally abusing him after Mendi fullback Wesley Vali scored his third try.
The incident was witnessed by PNG National Rugby League chief executive officer Stanley Hondina, who was shocked at the behaviour of the Muruks’ management and fans.
Hondina and Gulf Isapea chairman Jacob Ivaroa, who is a member of the PNGNRL board, agreed it was a serious incident that would be deliberated on.
Mendi police were present and managed the crowd, with Hondina and Ivaroa advising both teams to submit their reports.
Kundi told The National that he was a former resident of Lae but was now based in Hagen.
Tigers coach Stanley Tepend said his side had won the contest fairly and would push for the result to be accepted despite the game ending prematurely.
The former Kumul five-eighth said they had expected a torrid encounter with the home side and planned for a tight finish, with Awane supplying the game-breaking play.
But the star of the afternoon was Muruks fullback Vali, who scored a hat-trick of tries.
The former Pukpuks sevens player used his pace and anticipation to make the Tigers defence look ordinary on several occasions.
Results: Rd 14, Sun, June 12 – Muruks 22 Tigers 24, Wigmen 28 Isapea 20, Gurias 42 Lahanis 18, Tumbe 36 Vipers 14, Mioks 6 Eagles 2. Bye: Lions.
Standings: Tigers 17, Gurias 14, Eagles 13, Tumbe 11, Mioks 11, Wigmen 9, Muruks 9, Isapea 7, Vipers 6, Lahanis 6, Lions 5.
By JACK AMI