COCA-Cola Super 5 pre-tournament favourites Southern Traders got their campaign back on track with a tough, if not convincing, 17-5 win over the rugged Highlanders in Lae on Saturday in the country’s premier regional rugby union competition.
In the other match, Northern Reds held off a surprisingly competitive Consap Development side 10-6 at SCRUM Oval after a scoreless first time.
The Super 5 points table after two rounds has Reds breaking clear with eight points followed by Highlanders on five along with Traders five, Consap on one and the Niugini Islanders yet to post a point.
Traders, in the first match of the day, were determined to make amends for their close loss to the Reds last week held enough territory and possession against an abrasive Highlanders pack to post three tries through fleet-footed winger Karo Kauna Jr.
Young fly-half Jonah Kautu Jr managed to convert only one of the three Traders’ tries but that did not matter as the second half descended into an arm-wrestle with no more additions to the 17-5 halftime score.
For the Northerners, representative flanker Albert Kaupa and former PNG Athletics Union sprinter Wally Kirika got their side over the line scoring unconverted tries in the second half after a miserly 0-0 score line in the first 40 minutes.
The junior development squad kicked two penalties but stayed within striking distance throughout against their senior Reds.
In the third round today, Highlanders will be aiming to give the young Consap side a real working over while Traders will also have their eyes set on topping the table with a bonus point win over the Islanders.
Reds have the bye.