By Rausim NA
The Vipers did it this year through perseverance, personal commitment and hard work. It was sheer individual effort from the 17 players who played week in week out unlike a consortium support like other franchise in the PNGNRL which benefited from. Vipers are a team who get minimal support from their franchise owner, the City Pharmacy Limited (CPL) Group of Companies compared with other franchise in the Digicel Cup Competition. They get the lowest budgetary funding towards the team compared with other franchise and have the minority fan base compared with other franchise in the PNGNRL Competition.
The players are not fed three times a day, do not train 3 times a day or do not live in a paid accommodation by the franchise. The players train once a day for an hour and earn a match payment, that is if they win. Before a Sunday game they converge at Port Moresby International School for a light lunch and head straight to PRL with no camp outings or team bonding session whatsoever. After the game, they return the jerseys and walk home. On their away games they are paid minimal meal allowance and are left to fend for themselves.
This is a whole new approach that has paid hefty dividend to the Stop & Shop franchise. Despite these uncompromising standard operational procedures, what has come out at the end of the day is a well groomed and drilled outfit that are clinical in all departments with a strong attitude to play footy. The Vipers of this era cannot be compared to the early 90s in the likes of Richard Wagambi, Stanley Haru, Tusky Karu, Late Aquila Emil, Joe Gispe, James Naipo, Kera Gaffin, James Miviri, Arnol Kerewanti and their crew who made 3 years consecutive premiership feat. Better still the boys of today broke the 19 year drought to bring the cup back to the city which must have put a lot of smiles on the faces of these legends. I have personally observed Richard Wagambi openly shedding tears when Vipers were trashed by other franchise in the last preceding years.
The win on Sunday was no fluke as it was a win that was really forged from within the hearts of each player who played their hearts out throughout the season. The character building was phenomenal. Larson Marabe’s sentiment as this victory being sweet as icing on the cake is the best words that can describe the feat which the boys have endured throughout the year. Their off season training since December last year has paid dividend. They had most of the boys coming from the PRL system and had taken them couple of years to bond and gel together in likes of Maki, Abavu, Eliab, Marabe, Koarave and Pandea. From been season pretenders the vipers will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons and will not be easy push overs like yester years. CPL Group of Companies under the Stop & Shop banner has shown a different model of mentoring and management that is totally different from the Gurias style, Mioks way and Tigers system. Whatever it is, a lot can be learned from the Vipers team of 2013.
Well Done Vipers...
THE Port Moresby Vipers are the 2013 Digicel Cup rugby league champions.
The city slickers rewrote the record books with their pulsating 36-14 victory over the Goroka Lahanis before a jam-packed Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby yesterday.
This is the fourth Vipers premiership, after winning the opening three in 1990, 1991 and 1992.
The Lahanis were never themselves and looked to have lost their fiery edge with the two-week break.
The Vipers, despite losing star centre Richard Kambo through injury, came to party and they set the scene for it with their well structured win, under first-time Digicel Cup coach, Leonard Tarum.
After 19 years the National Capital District can celebrate the heroics of Kera Ngaffin, James Naipao, Kes Paglipari, Stanley Haru and Tuksy Karu as they hold the prestigious inter-city challenge trophy.
It was the man of the moment Vipers skipper Larsen Marape who continued his unbridled form in a courageous performance to deny the Eastern Highlanders their fifth grand final win.
The 29-year-old from Tari, Hela, captivated the crowd with a high 20 tackles and 15 hit-ups to claim the man of the match award.
The Vipers were ridiculed in the media in recent weeks, the PNG NRL board even suspending three of their players, including key playmaker Peter Palus, but that was not enough to deny rising young star Israel Eliab from showing his vast array of skills.
Eliab, hotly tipped for the Kumuls number seven jumper for the World Cup, set up the opening try with a timely cross kick down the left for three-try hero Elijah Riyong to open the scoring.
The Lahanis came back strongly with lock Bernard Tatsim Jr running off an inside pass from hooker Yapa Kapa and then centre Minaho Goso put them in front for a 10-6 lead.
Eliab then again backed himself to burst through Supa Kokote and Lahanis skipper Nicko Ubile to get them back on equal terms 10-10.
The Vipers, sensing a resurgence, brought on fresh legs with the inter-change in Dick Nap and Timothy Lomai backing the efforts of Enoch Maki, Steven Johns, Sebastian Pandia, Adam Korave and Marape.
That lead to dummy half hustler Charlie Wabo sending in Stanley Torato for their third try to take a 16-10 lead into half-time.
With the Vipers knowing the Lahanis had come back strongly in their two earlier clashes, they muscled up and forced the Goroka team into making uncharacteristic errors following the break.
While the Vipers were making similar mistakes as well, their brick-wall defence was a major feature of the opening 20 minutes.
Eliab pounced on another opportunity after working off a mid-field penalty to weave his magic with the game-breaker.
That try basically broke the Lahanis hopes as it was all downhill from there with Marape, fullback Josiah Abavu and Riyong in for his second try ramming the nail into the coffin as they took a commanding 36-10 lead.
From there the win was in the bag despite a late rally for Goso to go over for his second-try in the 74th minute.
The Vipers unheralded back trio of Gary Lo, replacement Lawrence Kuso and Riyong were outstanding.
It was do- or -die game in front of a large crowd at the Port Moresby Rugby League Ground when Port Moresby based Vipers toppled Premiers Rabaul Gurias 32 – 8 in the PNG semi-profesional Digicel Cup.
The game kicked off despite the heat of Port Moresby. The boys from Radas wasted no time to register a try through a skilful play from the backline. Conversion was successful and Gurias lead with 6 points after the first quarter of the game. Some laziness from Vipers forwards showed them penalized and a penalty was awarded against them. Gurias added the two points and that was their last point of the day.
Vipers fought back strongly and Man of the Match hero Enock Mark split open Gurias defence and planted the ball under the uprights. Conversion was unsuccessful and they trailed by 4 points three minutes into the break. Vipers registered 6 points through Captain and hard hitting forward, Larson Marabe. Vipers led 10 – 8 at the break.
Second half was one-sided affair as the home side punched on with energy to registered three unanswered tries and the visitors scoreless. Poor handling and poor options showed the Gurias struggled to shut down vipers on slaughter.
Vipers : tries- Elijah Riyong, Larsen Marabe, Josiah Abavu, Enoch Maki 2, Sebulon Ragi,
Goals - Sebastion Pandia 3
Gurias: tries - Boas Ruru
Goal- Ase Boas
Penalty Goal- Jackie Marcus
Vipers will Goroka Lahanis in the Grand Final in Port Moresby.
HEAD Port Moresby Viper Larson Marabe says three losses this year at the hands of the Rabaul Gurias are more than enough.
“There will not be a fourth … I can promise you that,” Marabe, the Vipers inspirational skipper, vowed yesterday.
The capital city slickers are staring down the barrel of another failed campaign as they prepare for the mammoth task of outwitting the reigning champions in the Digicel Cup rugby league preliminary final at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby on Sunday.
The winner will play minor premiers Goroka Lahanis in the grand final on Sunday week.
The Vipers have not reached this stage of the play-offs for a long time and that incentive adds spice to what is looming as a do-or-die blockbuste.
Riding high on the back of the 28-16 win over the Enga Mioks in a violence-disrupted game, Marabe is prepared to put his body on the line to break everybody’s expectations of a Gurias-Lahanis grand final.
“Mipela brukim nupela graun long kam olsem, husat tok bai mipela pundaun nating long ol Gurias,” a defiant Marabe said.
The man from Hela heads a talented engine room that includes Sebastian Pandia, Enoch Maki, rising potential Adam Korave, Steven Johns and inter-change Dick Nap.
One possible bonus is the likelihood that five-eighth Peter Paulus, winger Michael Mark and centre Toby Kapi could return into coach Leonard Tarum’s calculations as well after deliberations with all parties concerned this week.
For the Gurias, coach Michael Marum has a class outfit and is likely to stick to last weekend’s line-up.
Marum yesterday said the Vipers were heavy up front and they had been working to nullify that this week.
“They have some good plays around the ruck area, which we are wary of,” he said. “As long as we contain them from breaking out we should be in for a good chance,” he said. Marum said there were no major casualties from the loss on Sunday and preparations had been good, with all players available and training well.
Probably the only addition that could pay dividends would be to bring in the rarely used Kumul prop Rodney Pora to use his experience on the big stage.
With the Vipers defence improving this season, it will test Marum’s game plan of attacking wide.
Likely Vipers starting line-up: Josiah Abavu (full-back), Gary Lo, Mark (wings), Richard Kambo, Kapi (centres), Paulus (five-eight), Israel Eliab (half-back), Korave (lock), Marabe, Pandia (second-row), Charlie Wabo (hooker), Maki, Steven Johns (props).
Likely Gurias starting line-up: Boas Ruru (full-back), William Aquila, Emmanuel Toide (wings), Francis Paniu, Jackie Marcus (centres), Dion Aiye (five-eight), Ase Boas (half-back), Danny Patrick (lock), Emmanuel John, Kevin Frank (second-row), Wartovo Puara Jnr (hooker), Joe Bruno, Travis Waninara (props).