By Shane Saroya – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Hohola off-season rugby league competition is said to be one of the toughest and biggest off-season competitions in Port Moresby.
Coinciding with the competition for 2016 was the annual Michael Kandiu Easter Cup which attracted 24 registered teams from various suburbs around the city that drew to a close late on Tuesday.
Four teams contested the plate and Cup play-off.
Malabin Brothers and BP Mix Mates opened the plate final with a lot of flair and enthusiasm.
The IPI Park once again came alive as diehard rugby league fans cheered on their teams.
On the rock-hard surface both teams had an all-out battle with aggressive running and hit-ups that got the crowed going.
Brothers in red came close to scoring in the 25th minute, but Mix Mates’ defence was solid preventing them from scoring.
The match went on to see a scoreless first half. In the second half both teams were eager to get points on the board, by then Mix Mates had the Brothers cornered in their zone, and took the field goal right on the hooter to snatch the plate title.
The main game of the afternoon saw the defending champions Freeway Bumpers bump horns with the SOE Pirates in a thrilling contest which would see the winner taking home the coveted Michael Kandiu Easter Cup and K5,000 in prize money.
With their pride on the line the Bumpers in red were first to send their charges with distracting runs down into Pirates territory.
And with gritted teeth they continued attack on repeated sets, as the Freeway lads crossed over for their first try, with a successful conversion.
The pressure was mounting on Pirates as they tried to turn defence into offence, a reckless tackle on Bumpers prop resulted in a successfully converted penalty kick to extend their lead to 8-0 at half time.
A half time team talk and motivation from the ever so vocal fans, proved rewarding for the Pirates as they scored to narrow the gap down to just two points.
However, the match was disrupted momentarily my match officials who had not been paid since the start of the tournament last Thursday, much to the disgust of enthusiastic fans.
After this was taken care of, the game continued before a high bomb was launched by the Bumpers, only to be caught by one of their running backs who latched on to the ball to score the Freeway Bumpers winning try.
Initiator and major sponsor of the tournament, Michael Kandiu, said the sole purpose of the event is get the youths involved in sports and recreational activities to keep them out of bad practice.
Kandiu also challenged other corporate houses to get behind sporting activities, especially in local suburbs around the city.