A DISAPPOINTED Goroka Lahanis captain Nicko Slain Ubile said his fear that grand final foes Port Moresby Vipers could dominate the forward battle in yesterday’s Digicel Cup final came true.
The city side, boasting eight former or current representative players, won 36-14 at Lloyd Robson Oval.
“I said coming into this match that we needed to be wary of their (Vipers) pack,” a despondent Ubile, pictured, said.
“I said that they could dominate us if we did didn’t control the ruck, and that’s exactly what they did.
“Charlie (Wabo) and his boys dominated us because we didn’t get up quickly in their faces and our marker defence was not good enough.
“That was our main failing.”
The former Kumul second-rower said the Lahanis’ sliding and marker defence was found wanting, especially in the second half.
“We lacked a good sliding defence and we didn’t mark up properly at dummy half and they used the inside ball well.
“They used the breeze in that second half,” Ubile said of the four consecutive tries the Vipers scored in the second half to get into an unassailable position at 36-10 by the 71st minute.
“But I’m proud of my boys ... we’ve worked hard over the season to play 19 matches leading up to today. “But one side has to win and one side is to lose.
“It doesn’t mean the Lahanis are a super team,” Ubile said.
“We have fix some areas in our game. We have to work on our defence. We had three coaches in one season and that needs to be sorted out for next season.”
The 31-year-old Lapilo, Ungai Bena native thanked Goroka fans for coming to Port Moresby and showing their support.
“I just want to thank our fans for coming down to Moresby in numbers. The Lahanis have some of the best fans and we are very grateful for their support. We’ll be back next year.”
GOROKA Lahanis franchise owner Simon Sia says the Vipers will have to break more than an arm or leg to deny them victory on Sunday.
Sia, pictured, is passionate about his team and is confident rugby league’s Digicel Cup is heading to Eastern Highlands.
Unlike his Vipers franchise counterpart Sudhir Guru, Sia is more vocal about this season after a disastrous 2012 season when they were one of the first teams to be eliminated from the play-offs.
His hands-on approach not only paid dividends to reinvigorate a new-look outfit but to lay down the law on discipline and commitment if they wanted to fill the huge shoes of past Lahanis greats.
“When I first got involved in the game I didn’t know a thing but now I see the importance of creating a conducive environment while laying down a few ground rules to ensure we collect dividends from our product,” he said.
“To their credit, the players have risen to the task at hand and are more or less believing in themselves a bit more, which is why we have come this far.
“From the players I believe our little general Robin Soga at halfback and blockbusting forward Supa Kokote will play key roles in ensuring a Lahanis show. We will bring the Digicel Cup home again just like we did in 2011.
“I’m confident with the team and we are looking forward to the game in Port Moresby.
“I know it will be a huge game and it will mean a lot for the Vipers after a long time but we have worked hard for this too and will make our presence felt on and off the field to ensure our objective.”
He said the grand final build-up in the town and the province was overwhelming. “People here (Goroka) love their rugby league and their team.
“We are running out of supporters merchandise in the shop and all airline companies flying out of Goroka are fully booked, people are flying out of Mt Hagen, Lae and even Madang,” he said.
“There are a couple of groups that started walking last week just to watch the game so you can see how big the support is and how passionate the Eastern Highlanders are.”
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