The National, Monday July 8th, 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
THE Port Moresby Vipers only just scraped through to beat a fiery Mendi Muruks 14-12 in Round 13 of rugby league’s Digicel Cup before a boisterous crowd at the Lloyd Robson Oval yesterday.
The Vipers seemed bereft of ideas to handle a determined Muruks.
The homeside’s only saviour and a problem area that riddled them as well were the number of drop-balls that frustrated the Muruks from putting the game away.
The Vipers struggled to gain any advantage as they were forced into a corner for 70 minutes as Mendi led 6-4 for what seemed like an eternity.
Despite languishing at the bottom of the table, coach Ruben Ruing ignited something in his charges as they dove into the contest with 100% commitment.
Vipers coach Komboi was probably more worried about the next three outings against the Lae Tigers, Goroka Lahanis and the local derby against the Gulf Isapea more than anything else.
It took only two minutes for halfback Joshua Molsie to cross the Vipers’ line for a handy 6-0 lead.
The Vipers’ big guns Larson Marabe, Steven Johns, Sebastian Pandia, Adam Korave and Richard Kambo out wide pressed for a reply but met some stiff resistence.
Muruks forwards Andrew Buka, Isaac Mel, Jeffrey Pua, Malachi Owen and Jacky Kuman led a spirited charge from the cellar dwellers.
Vipers finally broke through Kumul prospect Josiah Abavu down the left flank after running onto a neat pass from halfback Sebulon Ragi Jr to see them down 6-4 at halftime.
The secondhalf saw no change despite the Muruks given every opportunity to score, but again the high error rate blunted any promising endeavours.
The Vipers finally saw daylight from a set move which saw Abavu punch through to score and then minutes before the final hooter Ragi Jr slipped an inside ball for Pandia to score the sealer.
The Petroleum Resources Kutubu-sponsored Muruks closed the match with the try of the match to fullback Richard Mapi, but it was too little too late to force the win.