The National, Monday, June 6th 2011
By KEVIN TEME
PORT Moresby Stop N Shop Vipers’ centre Eki Ene returned from a broken thumb to star for the capital city franchise as they beat Kongo Coffee Simbu Warriors 32-26 in front of a large crowd at the Lloyd Robson Oval in game five of the Digicel Cup in Port Moresby.
The Vipers former skipper stole the show scoring a hat-trick of tries against a determined but overmatched foe.
Ene was the first to score just minutes after kick-off before halfback Roger Laka crossed.
Laka’s try was well executed when Kevin Frank off loaded to winger Joshua Poria, then regathers a return pass from Poria before sending a supporting Laka under the uprights.
Forward Sebastian Pandia this time made sure to raise the flag and the Vipers led 10-0.
Warriors regrouped from their indifferent start with fullback Joel Ambrose leading the onslaught.
His efforts paid off in the 18th minute when former Muruks hooker Andrew Baine bulldozed his way from dummy half to score next to the posts.
Warriors half Mai Tom converted to trail 6-10.
Mai added a further penalty to close in 10-8 at the break.
Although having performed well in the first half Warriors did not improve on that effort with Ene continuing his top form scoring in the 48th minute and reserve Toua Kohu adding another try.
Ene again added one more to his name while Poria, who had an outstanding game on the wing, put off any hopes for Warriors come back when he scored in the 60th minutes to extend the lead by 24 points difference with Vipers leading 32-8.
A never-say-die effort by the visitors saw them score three tries through winger Jerry Mongi in the 65th minute while reserve backs Supa Takai scored in the 72nd minute and Sonny Daing scored with three minutes remaining.
Ambrose, who performed superbly for Warriors, played brilliantly to set up Tom for the final try to go down 32-26.
A disappointed Warriors chairman Jerry Kapka said: “We became our own enemy with our mistakes otherwise we should have won this game.
“The boys weren’t careful in the second half and Vipers ran over us. We came back but it was already late.”