By ZACHERY PER
THE national zone side came from behind to force an 18-18 draw against the bemobile Cup select side in a one-off President 13 selection trials in Kundiawa, Chimbu, yesterday.
The bemobile side which was tipped to topple the zone side led 18-12 with 10 minutes remaining.
However, zone’s Kembol Kaikepa crossed over for a converted try to level the scores.
After a lengthy scoreless 33 minutes, experienced campaigner Johnson Kuike broke the duck, sprinting his way in the Zone’s territory to score for a 4-0 lead.
Kongo Coffee Simbu Warriors’ Willie Guambo’s boot failed to find the uprights.
The zone side, comprising raw talents managed to combine perfectly well to send utility Justin Kudja to score next to the posts, followed by a successful conversion by Mark Mexico to lead 6-4.
Both sides evenly fought through to half time maintaining the narrow 6-4 lead with the zone side in front.
The zone side continued their aggression to put Chiko Mairi to score in the 53rd minute, with Kudja converting to extend their lead to 12-4.
Top try-scorer in the bemobile Cup competition, Sonny Daing then stepped his way over the zone’s line to score, but Anton Kui failed to find the uprights to close the gap to 12-8.
They lifted the tempo of the game which resulted in Robert Koromus going over to score a converted try to sneak into a 14-12 lead.
Then Michael Gawi, who came off the bench, picked up another try for the bemobile Cup side to stretch their lead to 18-12.
However, with 10 minutes remaining, Kaikepa crossed over the try line for converted try to level the score 18-18 at full time.
PNG Rugby Football League interim committee member Gary Juffa commended the fans for supporting fairly and the behaviour demonstrated during the match.
He also acknowledged the support of Chimbu Governor Fr John Garia, Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Joe Mek Teine, Gumine MP and Lands and Physical Planning Minister Lucas Dekena towards rugby league in Chimbu.
Juffa also said a president side would also be announced tomorrow.
Garia officiated at the match that attracted more than 5,000 spectators from the highlands region.
New PNG Kumul coach Stanley Gene and selector Arnold Krewanty were also at the trials.