The National – Monday, June 20, 2011
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
VISITING Stop N Shop Vipers proved too strong, defeating Wantok Gaming System Eagles at home yesterday in round seven of the Digicel Cup competition.
Despite numerous rough tactics from the hosts, the boys from the nation’s capital stuck to their game plan to beat Eagles 20 -12 at the Kagamuga showground.
Vipers lived up to their growing reputation overwhelming Eagles in a typically physical clash.
Eagles last week lost chairman John Kala, who passed away after suffering a suspected heart attack, leaving the Hagen franchise in disarray.
“We are still mourning Kala’s death, which disrupted training and the result speaks for itself.
“Hopefully, we will come good in the next round,” Eagles team manager Isaac Kombamong said.
Vipers wasted no time when forward Steven John broke through the Eagles’ defence five minutes into the match.
The try was successfully converted by lock Sebastian Pandia for a 6-0 lead.
Eagles replied with a try to winger Lapua David but the conversionby Bamu Taungapna was unsuccessful leaving the home side to trail 6-4.
Vipers kept up the intensity and were in again when secondrower Timothy Komane crossed for a converted to lead 12-4.
Eagles inter-change Mosley Tika muscled his way through the Vipers’ defence from 10m out to keep Eagles in the hunt in the 37th minute.
The conversion by Willie Guambo was unsuccessful and the Eagles trailed 12-8 at halftime.
In the first 20 minutes of the second half, both teams cancelled each other out with brutal defence until Vipers’ Joshua Poria latched on to a pass from centre Eki Ene to outrun the defence .
But the linesman ruled it a forward pass and disallowed the try.
This was booed by sections of the crowd but the decision was upheld.
Undeterred the Vipers fought back strongly led by Pandia and Noel Joel who combined to send Ene over for a converted try to lead 18-8. Eagles big guns in captain Francis Ray, Rodney Pora and Henry Wan continued wave after wave of hit ups but Vipers’ defence held firm until winger David Rombuk got a ball from centre Jason Tali and powered his way to the try line to give Eagles a chance.
Again, the conversion kick by Guambo was wayward to leave the Mt Hagen franchise a converted try behind 12-18.
With under a minute left in the game, Vipers were awarded a penalty 20m out from the Eagles line in centrefield for a high tackle and Pandia stepped up to slot the final points of the contest.
The Vipers won the admiration of the fans who were unhappy with the overall performance from the Eagles and this was shown after the game, when they entered the field to congratulate the Vipers’ players.