The footy gods smiled upon the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby city yesterday at the best ever nail biting, nerve clenching, jaw dropping footy match one could ever dreamed of watching.
After going all out in regular time, not one single soul had expected the match to see not one, but two extra times of nonstop footy action.
Both teams that took part in the grand final should take a bow for their magnificent performance because the Agmark Rabaul Gurias and the Kroton Hela Wigmen have cemented the day in the minds of all those who came out to witness what had unfolded and will go down in the history books as the best grand final match in the Digicel Cup’s history.
Starting off strong both teams showed much intent with the visitors (Gurias) making headways into the Wigmen defence, making the mountain men work extra hard for both field and ball possession. But against the run of momentum, the Wigmen went 2 points up with half-back, Solomon Pokare opening the scoring with a penalty to lead the match.
Both teams were evenly matched in physicality with momentum switching each way until the Gurias through some slick ball running by five-eight, Saki Peter and a chip over the top gave Dominic Anis Jnr a chance to score in the 36th minute.
Returning from the half-time break both teams looked as strong as ever, but unfortunate ball handling errors by the Gurias gave room for the mountain men to execute their game plan.
With the Gurias big men once again, creating breaks in the Wigmen defence, it was not long before a ruck infringement in the 54th minute gave Ase Boas a chance to extend the lead by converting a penalty goal. With the Gurias on top, all hope seemed lost as the tough Tolai defense seemed to dissuade the Wigmen until second-man ball running by Pokare saw Junior Igila chip the ball over the top of the defense for winger, Siki Konden to score in the corner, levelling the scores in the 67th minute. At that point, the conversion was unsuccessful leaving the scores level for the rest of the game.
The final 10 minutes saw the men from Hela defend with vigorous intent, wreaking havoc as the Gurias looked stunned by the Konden try. That looked to be the case for the rest of the game. There were a few field goal attempts by both sides but were unsuccessful.
A hard-fought match with both sides unwilling to surrender possession, the game entered extra time to see if one team would crack, but for the extra 10 minutes both teams looked impenetrable.
An early scare from the Hela men saw a field goal attempt by super- sub Allan Simbiri waved away in the 84th minute of extra time, while Veteran Ase was not having a good day with the boot, as he missed 4/4 attempts at field goal.
Golden point seemed to be the same with fatigue catching up to both teams, causing stoppages of play and it was not until the 97th minute in golden point when match referee, Ben Cummins blew a penalty 15m from touch, 30m from the goal against the men from Rabaul, sealing the game and the victory for the Wigmen as the man of the match, Tapia Solu converted.
The Wigmen defeated the Gurias, 8-6.