Port Moresby Vipers Wipe Out Goroka Lahanis

PORT MORESBY - The Port Moresby Vipers have broken a 19-year drought to re-enter the country’s premier rugby league grand final, the Digicel Cup.

When the city slickers rea­ched the 1994 grand final, coincidentally they beat the Goroka Lahanis 36-30 in that game in Port Moresby. They meet again in the decider again this Sunday.

But yesterday emotions flowed as the heroic Vipers sunk their venom deep in a 32-8 backlash to trounce reigning champions the Rabaul Gurias in a fiery preliminary final before a capacity crowd at the Lloyd Robson Oval yesterday.

Vipers skipper Larsen Marabe had vowed not to lose after three losses to the reigning premier this season. And he and his men made good on that promise.

The Vipers were full of venom from the start as they shed their premiership pretenders tag in stunning style.
At fulltime teary eyed coach Leo­nard Tarum said the true Viper had finally come out. He admitted the media hype and the bitterness of losing three players deeply affected team morale.

“But it worked to strengthen our resolve to play beyond ourselves,” he said with a satisfied smile.

“The players worked hard for this and knowing they had beaten us three times this season they played like real champions to win today.”

The Vipers came out with great intent that nearly backfired as referee Wayne Wool marched them back in an opening fiery burst.

Although shaken by the gang tackles, the Gurias opened up the emotion filled Vipers following an incision from dummy-half by Puara Wartovo Jnr that led to five-eighth Dion Aiye putting fullback Boas Ruru through a yawning gap down the left corridor.

More indiscretion followed from the Vipers and led to the Gurias kicking a penalty to lead 8-0.

But the Vipers changed tactics, bringing back their structured play and despite at least three opportunities being wasted, they finally broke the ice through winger Elijah Riyong capitalising on a Puara error.

Then when Vipers rake Charlie Wabo milked a penalty five-eighth Israel Eliab pushed captain Marabe flying through like a human missile to level the scores and the Vipers were in with a sniff.

A timely Eliab 40/20 saw the determined Vipers score through Josiah Abavu running off a strong burst from centre Richard Kambo to lead 16-8 at half-time.

Despite camping in the Vipers half and threatening to score, they came off second best from the stifling defence.
The Vipers breakthrough came when Enoch Maki and Adam Korave jolted Gurias Nelson Daplen in a jarring tackle.
The turnover led to Maki bulldozing his way over and then when halfback Sebulon Ragi Jnr reached over to score again the Gurias were history.

Maki sealed the win with a last try through the injury hit Gurias defenders down the right flank.
Port Moresby Vipers 32 (E Maki 2, E Riyong, S Ragi Jnr, J Abavu, L Marabe tries; Pandia 4 conversions) beat Rabaul Gurias 8 (B Ruru try; A Boas 1 conversion; J Markus 1 penalty). [TheNational]
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