By PARKER TAMBUA
THE Hela Wigmen scored 20 unanswered second-half points to pull off a 24-4 upset in over defending champions Lae Tigers at Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby yesterday.
Coach Charlie Wabo’s men avenged their 4-15 defeat in last year’s grand final with a second-half masterclass in round 10 of the Digicel Cup.
Ladder leaders Tigers would have sealed the minor premiership with a win over the Wigmen but coach Stanley Tepend’s men will now have to wait until Sunday to see whether they claim minor honours.
The second-placed Rabaul Gurias, who have one point fewer than the Tigers following their 38-20 win over the Central Dabaris on Saturday, can snatch the minor title if they beat Waghi Tumbe and Lae lose to the Port Moresby Vipers in the final regular-season round.
The Tigers and hosts Wigmen went into halftime with a 4-4 scoreline after both sides scored an unconverted try each by fullback Joe Joshua and winger Roger David respectively.
It was the second-half four-try haul by the Wigmen that shocked the star-studded Tigers.
But the scores were level until the 60th minute when 110kg prop Tommy Moide barged his way over to score a converted try for a 10-4, thanks to good dummy-half play by Judah Rimbu.
Three minutes later, the Wigmen capitalised on a 40/20 kick by Tony Wemin to send fullback Norman Brown over for an unconverted try after he found space in the Tigers defence.
Ten minutes from fulltime, Kitron Laka steamrolled his way over to score a converted try for the Wigmen before winger Solo Wane sealed the win with a 90m dash after an intercept in his own 10m.
Tigers winger Anderson Benford had an unlucky afternoon after referee Paul Wani disallowed his two tries for forward passes.
“We were focused the whole week to get this result and we displayed everything we practised at training,” Wabo said.
“We didn’t underestimate ourselves, we knew we could beat them and that’s what we did.”
Tepend said his side lost focus in the second half.
“The Wigmen thoroughly deserved the win,” he said.
“They were all over us in everything and we lost focus.”
Results: Sat, Sept 12 — Rabaul Gurias 38 Central Dabaris 20, Port Moresby Vipers 32 Kimbe Cutters 16, Mt Hagen Eagles 36 Goroka Lahanis 20; Sun, Sept 13 — Mendi Muruks 22 Enga Mioks 6, Waghi Tumbe 32 Gulf Isou 16, Hela Wigmen 24 Lae Tigers 4