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Papua New Guinea

Kokopo Muruks take back title

Rugby League

SNAX Kokopo Muruks have won the premiership title from Pomio Storm with a nail-biting 8-6 win in the Grand Final of the 2018 ENBRFL competition.
The much anticipated clash which was officially kicked off by Sinivit LLG President Boniface Gerep, was preceded by an unusual act, performed by the Storm boys running on with a live snake, symbolising the unique Baining belief and culture of inland Gazelle.
From the start Muruks showed good urgency and enthusiasm in their defence that kept the lads from Pomio inside their own half for a good 20 minutes.
At their turn of possession Muruks were able to capitalise on Storm’s defensive lapse when halfback Michael Ragi followed his own grubber to score Muruks’ first try to lead by four points.
Storm after conceding the first try started to show glimpses of last year’s unrelenting defence and quick play the ball which had the Muruks’ heavy pack backpedaling.
Smart thinking by Storm wingman and speedster Raphael Pupia who was able to capitalise on Muruks tiring defence stepped his way through to run 50 metres to score a converted try and putting Storm in front at halftime 6-4.
In the second stanza, Storm continued that momentum and intensity into their opposition’s half that almost resulted in a try but was called back for a forward pass.
With 20 minutes to go Muruks were able to regroup quickly using their big men upfront in Philip Nerius,Pirtop Kaminiel,David Punion and young Epel Kapinias to gain some valuable metres into opposition’s half.
Storm’s scrambling defence finally cracked when they were penalised for a strip. Muruks opted for the two points which was potted from right in front by Ragi to level the scores at 6 all.
With 10 minutes to go frustrations started creeping into the game resulting in two players from both teams sent to the bin. Storm’s halfback and skipper Ruben Magi started to reorganise their attack into Muruks half using big Sebastian Napo, Jerry Elisha and Elisa Puak that almost resulted in another try but again the last pass was ruled forward.
With the scoreline still locked up at 6 all and time was running out, centres Andrew Manuel and Longinus Daungia with fullback Lipirin Sakias took Muruks back into opposition’s 20 again Storm were penalised for another infringement in the ruck which eventually gave Muruks the kicking opportunity from right in front to seal the victory and reclaim the premiership.
Muruks halfback, Ragi was man of the match.
In the U-20 Royals beat Keleona Panthers 10 to 5 while in the Womens Grand Final Pomio defeated Snax Kokopo Muruks 20-4.

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