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.
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