Tumbe in nail-biter

JPG Waghi Tumbe are only one game away from the big dance after ending Kroton Hela Wigmen’s late surge to defending the cup, in a one point thriller 20-19 in the Digicel Cup Minor Semi-final play-off on Sunday, at the Oil Search National Football stadium.

The big showdown however went beyond the 80 minutes of regular time when both teams were tied up 18 all at fulltime.

After the 18-all deadlock at fulltime, the PNG National Rugby league Competition under International Rugby League rules had to use provisions in its competition rules to allow for the minor semifinal playoff between Tumbe and Wigmen to continue into extra time to decide the ultimate winner.

The much anticipated do or die blockbuster had everything and played in true finals spirits that had its share of ugly moments with tempers flaring on the field.

The game started well in Wigmen's favor when Tumbe coughed up the ball inside their red zone giving them the upper hand to draw first blood courtesy of captain Valentine Culligan, who smashed his way through Tumbe defense to put his team in front 6 nil, only minutes into the contest. 

In the insuring play, Tumbe were able to quickly regroup making good inroads into Wigmen’s half resulting in a try of their own to put them back on equal terms.

From there on it was an arm wrestle all the way before Wigmen crossed again through Co-captain Stanford Talitha to put them in front at 12-6.

Wigmen were very much in control when Talitha set up backrower Jordan Steven to extend the lead at 18-6.

However that 12 points advantage was short lived after Tumbe hit back with a double to equalize at 18-all until fulltime, forcing the contest into extra time, with 5 minutes each way. Both teams exchanged a number of field goal attempts but all were way off target until the 10 minutes expired allowing the golden point rule to come into play.

But it was the big play by Tumbe’s no.1 and man of the match, Jessie Mathew, combining with veteran Superman Kokote that set up halfback, and former Wigmen David Joseph’s golden boot for the thrilling one pointer, ending Wigmen’s late season surge for their title defense.




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Terry Longbut