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By Bradley Mariori
National Gaming Control Board Director Steven Temo has congratulated Kulaka West of Jiwaka province taking out the 2023-2024 National Gaming Control Board Ipatas Cup.

Unfortunately Homeland Saints of Mt Hagen fell short of defending a back to back championship succumbing to the 16-12 loss to Kulaka West at the sound of fulltime siren at the Lae Rugby League oval yesterday.

The lads from Banz Township in Jiwaka province lifting the Ipatas Cup for the first time have done it all coming through a mercy pass entry at the discretion of the tournament organizers.

As usual the mercy pass is awarded to a team each from the provincial challenges having shown great courage and determination to survive the competition.

Kulaka West Captain, Job Kar continues to allude that reaching the title fight was more than a gamble knowing that never was it the easy way getting into the challenge.

“We kept our heads in the game and stuck through knowing we made it through the mercy pass,” Kar said.

Though being the second best rated team from the provincial challenges, Kar said the labeling became the motivation getting past the tournament stages and eventually claiming their first Ipatas Cup Grand final.

NGCB Ipatas Cup Director Sam Koi has lauded all 108 teams taking part in the challenge nationwide thanking them for maintaining the spirit of the challenge despite minor setbacks.

Koi commended the National Gaming Control Board and Enga Provincial Government and Governor Peter Ipatas, Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited and Mineral Resource Enga for the undivided backing of the tournament throughout its duration.

Koi said as always, every year the Ipatas Cup is bigger and better and the added opportunity for all rugby administrators in PNG.

Kulaka West claimed the 2023-2024 NGCB Ipatas Cup and the K50 000 reward while runner up Homeland Saints settled for K25 000.

On third placing is Prum Panthers of Enga rewarded K15 000 and Kindeng Storms of Jiwaka cashing out on K10 000 at 4th placing.

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