Vipers off to a good start

The 2024 Digicel Exxon Mobil Cup season has kicked off on the right footing for the intercity franchise Moni Plus NCDC Port Moresby Vipers following back to back wins on the trot in the two opening rounds of the competition.

In Round One, Vipers had to dig deep to overcome the 2023 grand final runner ups, Bintangor Goroka Lahanis 22-16. In their Round 2 match last week, the Vipers surged home to beat returning Asila Waghi Tumbe 20-12.

Under the former Vipers player turned coach Charlie Wabo, the 2024 season couldn’t have a better start than stringing together back-to-back wins, elevating them to the top of the competition table on 4 pts.

The star-studded Vipers had a lot of opportunities to build pressure and create scoring chances against  Waghi Tumbe on Sunday, however, shot themselves in the foot with too many handling errors that allowed frustration to creep into the game.

Back at the national football stadium on Sunday for the first time after sitting out the 2023 season, the Tumbes did not look out of place and certainly put their bodies on the line to match the Vipers big men before elusive fullback Sylvester Bulu scored the first of his double, only six minutes into the hit to be in front 6-0.

The match again turned into an arm wrestle and looked disjointed at times with poor ball security. Vipers suffered a further blow when marquee recruit Supa Kokote was knocked out cold in a head clash with Tumbe’s second rower Job Opai who was placed on report and marched to the bin for dangerous contact.

With a man down, Tumbe were next to score after Vipers centre Messach Wellen tapped the ball back into the waiting arm of second-rower Korken Abba to level the scores.The Vipers got a penalty just before half time to lead 8-6.

The second half started in a similar fashion as the first half when Vipers fullback Bulu scored first from a better Vipers attacking set.

Tumbe responded immediately when former Hunter Jessie Mathew made a line break on the left edge before linking up with centre Jonah Moti who popped the ball back on the inside to Jessie for classic a touchdown.

The game was in the balance before Vipers captain Gilmor Paul showed the power of his running game when he barged through some flimsy defensive effort on the left edge to seal the victory in the Viper favour 20-12.

At the post-match interviews, both expressed similar testaments about their teams mediocre performance which they need to polish up before Round 3. 

Loop Author