By Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
In another exciting grand final series for the East New Britain Rugby Football Union (ENBRFU) Se7ens competition over the weekend at the Malaguna Technical Secondary School Oval, a huge crowd of supporters, guests, families and onlookers were treated to free-flowing island style rugby.
A mix of brilliant flair and strong defence was displayed by all grand finalist teams in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
In the Premier division the two Rabaul based teams, Vikings and Cardinals, entertained the crowd with slick ball work and brutal defence under the watchful eyes of PNGRFU Development Manager, Sailosi Druma, who was the official referee.
Vikings opened the scoring from a back line move instigated by their captain and playmaker, Steven Wumi Jnr, who created space and an overlap to enable outside back Neville Bongoi to score out wide for a 5-0 lead.
From the ensuing play, Wumi was up to his elusive best again, picking the ball up from a scrum, before stepping his way through Cardinals’ forwards and the quick hands from Vikings’ William Tirang to Allan Semi resulted in another five pointer.
With Vikings holding a 10-0 lead, Cardinals regrouped and used their experience and heavier men to gain territory into the Vikings 22m, before standout forward John Rakan found a gap to score Cardinals’ first try.
With the clock ticking away and inching towards halftime, both sides tried to dominate ball possession and the advantage line. Vikings, however, seemed to be hungrier with the ball, creating opportunities but ultimately these were shut down by the Cardinals back line of Ben Kilala and company.
In the second stanza, Vikings came out firing after instruction from coaches Andy White and Hubert Minana. Impact sub Eugene Tokavai was thrown into the fray and immediately had an impact with some flair and experience. Running forward Kennedy Benjamin found an inside pass that saw him show a clean pair of heels to score under the posts. Wumi Jr converted to takeVikings to a 17-5 lead.
John Rakan scored his second try shortly after thanks to errors from Vikings, and some desperate territorial advantage saw Cardinals nudge ever closer to trail by seven.
Then the tackle of the match from Tokavai on Cardinals’ skipper Andrew Jolam saw Tokavai smartly and purposely tackle Jolam from the back in the Vikings 22m line before picking up the placed ball and running in the opposite direction to the despair of Cardinals fans and players. With Cardinals players hot on his heels, Tokavai smartly drew and passed to a galloping William Tirang who crashed over for Vikings to wrap up the match and the ARPI Ltd Perpetual Cup 22-10.
In earlier matches Maltech Rookies proved too classy for Matupit Diggers in the U19s division, beating them 12-7 with current Pukpuks Arthur Clement’s small brother Mesulam Junias displaying a man of the match performance. Matupit Diggers flashy finisher Audrey Elias received the top try scorer award.
The Women’s finale was a brutal encounter with strong hit ups from Redskins and solid defence from the smaller Spartans outfit. However, the crowd and supporters were on their toes throughout the match, as Redskins dominated ball possession and territory.
Unfortunately Redskins couldn’t convert this go forward into points, as Spartans held on with brutal defence. On the stroke of halftime, Spartans threw the ball out wide to their speedster Joyce Taravuna who ran around Red’s Joyce Muriki to score Spartans’ fist points to lead 7-0.
The 2nd half saw Redskins continue their onslaught, driving the ball and maintaining territorial advantage inside Spartans 22m. From quick rucks, Redskins bombarded Spartans try line defence, which eventually crumbled to see Red’s Joan Butler score next to the posts. Butler converted her own try to level the scores 7-7.
In the last two minutes of the game, Spartans used all their resources with fresh interchanges helping to bring them out of their danger zone before Taravuna swooped on a neat pass from her reliable teammate Kolish Joe to run away from tired Redskins defenders to score her second try of the match. A quick conversion later and Spartans were handed a hard fought victory over Redskins 14-7.
Joyce Taravuna also picked up Player of the Match.
In the Men’s U15s final, Cardinals out muscled Redskins 15-10.