The loss is the capital city side’s fifth in the season and keeps them winless and rooted to the bottom of the Eastern Pool.
The Vipers had added some topshelf talent for the home game with the inclusion of SP Hunters Adam Korave, Sebastian Pandia and former Kumul Glen Nami.
That counted for little as a high error rate put paid to any enterprising play the Vipers wanted to put on for their fans.
Stanley Tepend’s Tigers put on a commendable performance, showing a mix of enthusiasm and good execution in their sets to stay ahead of the Vipers.
In front of several thousand fans, the Lae Biscuit Company-sponsored side committed their own share of mistakes but had the sense to take whatever opportunities on offer while defending strongly over the course of the match.
Tigers’ second-rower David Loko played a vital role in the win, taking hit-ups in every set and defending aggressively to inspire his younger teammates to a valuable away win. The former Kumul and Hunters player was backed up well by his captain Sydniy Fred, Wei Mogi Junior, Bernard Lama, Ishmael Balkama in the visitors’ pack.
Tigers’ hooker Noel Joel was the unsung hero, with virtually every attacking play originating from a pass, a dummy or a call by the classy rake.
In the backline halves, Mafu Kales and Charlie Simon were solid with their enthusiastic three-quarters in Chris Martin and Pasu Awani.
Vipers’ trio Korave, Pandia, Nami and captain Richard Kambo at centre, toiled hard and put themselves in good positions throughout the match but continued to shoot themselves in the foot with errors.
Telix Kawage, Sebulon Ragi and fullback Ben Wemin tried hard but faced a committed and well-organised Tigers defence in the dying minutes.
Tigers were first to score when winger Robert Vuai went over in the corner, having out-paced a covering Pandia to get his side to a lead after 10 minutes.
Five-eighth Simon slotted the goal for a 6-0 lead.
Leonard Tarum’s side hit back in the 15th minute with a try to Pandia after a well-worked set move but Ragi missed the conversion and the home side trailed 6-4.
In the 23rd minute, Tigers reserve Nao Boge wrong-footed the defence to crash over for another four-pointer and Simon added the extras and lead was stretched to 12- 4.
The Vipers showed glimpses of their potential with a backline move in the 31st minute ending in Kambo forcing his way over the line.
Ragi kicked the goal to bring the margin to two points at 12-10 at halftime. The second 40 saw neither side put on the afterburners to break away.
Instead, the game descended into a series of mistakes brought about by poor ball control, stinging defence and a lack of focus.
A try a-piece had Tigers Awani crashing over in the 50th minute but the Stop n Shop-sponsored city franchise stayed within striking distance, with Brendon Gotuno giving his side a sniff with a try but Ragi missed the conversion that would have tied the scores. Results: Northwestern – Wigmen 34 Lions 14, Muruks 26 Mioks 24, Tumbe 11 Eagles 10; Eastern – Lahanis 30 Gurias 28, Vipers 14 Tigers 16. Bye: Isapea. Standings: NW – Lions 11, Muruks 10, Wigmen 8, Eagles 5, Enga Mioks 4, Waghi Tumbe 4; E – Tigers 12, Gurias 12, Lahanis 10, Isapea 8, Vipers 4. The National