The National, Monday 20th August, 2012
By KEITH PUARIA
IT took the Port Moresby Vipers 18 games in rugby league’s Digicel Cup season, but the delivery and finesse of yesterday’s 30-8 elimination final win over Goroka Lahanis was worth the wait.
The win would have “hushed” Vipers’ critics going into week two of the finals.
Halfback Atte Bina Wabo steered his side around the park in a master class performance, and captain Steven Johns, Sebastian Pandia and Enoch Maki bashed it up like there was no tomorrow, in a dominant display.
The city’s rugby league flagship put last year’s champions to the sword, running in five tries in style or determination to the Eastern Highlanders’ two.
“We had a game plan and we came out and did the little things right. Better ball control and playing with a purpose,” coach Shane Morris said.
“The team is playing with a little more confidence, but things can be a little better.
One win up, and our focus is next week now, starting tonight at a pool recovery session.”
“Credit must go to a clean and clinical game from them. The better side on the day won,” Lahanis Coach Peter Danga admitted.
“They held us in our own 30m in the opening stages and kept the pressure on and we didn’t recover quick enough.”
Gonzella Urakusie, Wesley Mohokule and Micah Soboni worked tirelessly against the Vipers surge but it wasn’t enough to create the space that their outside backs yearned for.
Star centre Thompson Teteh was kept quiet all day on the right side of the Lahanis attack.
Vipers went to the break 12-0 up with tries to centres Richard Kambo and Kevin Frank, and a conversion and penalty goal from five-eighth Israel Eliab.
Shedrick Singip crossed in the first minute of second half to signal a possible comeback by the visitors, but a committed Vipers defence and handling errors kept ticking the clock over without points for them.
Man of the Match Wabo toed a grubber through for Josiah Abavu to score under the sticks on the 47 minute, Elijah Ryong intercepted a loose pass and scooted 45 metres to add to the tally, and Maki put the result beyond doubt with four minutes left on the clock.
Soboni scored the only other try for Lahanis but it was all a little too late.
After raising eyebrows in a promising show in their 16-18 loss to the Agmark Gurias in week 17, Port Moresbys side raised a strong hand yesterday, as outside favorites for the 2012 champions tag.
They now meet the Mendi Muruks, who lost to Enga Mioks in Wabag, 48-20.