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Kumuls share of the ‘Big Three’: The Lion Upset

Commentary by  Terence Kapipi Yacop

The clock counted down the last minutes of history. The packed NFS that had generated so much noise and passion became almost quiet, disbelief in the air. We are only moments away from beating one of the big three.

Not only beat but the PNG Kumuls have humiliated, embarrassed and brutalized the British Lions in totality. The ‘Dead Lions were a sorry sight. We dreamed of beating them but the manner in which it was achieved was heart breaking. You could taste British tears of pain and shame in the warm Port Moresby night.

The Papua New Guinea nation and Architect in chief Michael Marum had finally reaped the rewards of the Hunters seeds planted six years earlier when Kumuls took the prized scalp of the Great Britain Lions 28 – 10.

This will be remembered as a tale of overcoming odds, of never giving up and of our David slaying Goliath and in the process uniting a nation in tears of joy and jubilation.
The Kumuls high hopes of upsetting Wayne Bennett’s Britain Lions were almost in tatters in the first quarter when the classier Brits ran rings around Marum’s men and scored two tries that looked almost too easy.

It was boiling down a path we know all too well that the stadium went quiet; you could hear a pin drop. The Kumuls were literally falling apart until the 21st minute when Marum sent an SOS call to his supermen from the bench; and they answered the nation’s desperate call for help in style.

The arrival of Moses Meninga, Stanton Albert, Garry Lo and explosive Igiri-Boy Edwin Ipape immediately shifted the dynamics of the match. The gaping holes in the Kumuls defensive lines were swiftly stitched and dormant offensive maneuvers activated by the tier two and tier three dominated Kumuls outfit. The back paddling Kumuls allover a sudden became a different animal.

This was a match where levels of qualification meant little but sheer will power and determination the commodity. Tom Burgess led Lions monster pack were easily pick up and handled. The silent NFS was given a new lease of life as the Kumuls counter attack in the last ten minutes of the first stanza with everything. But the Lions from the British Empire of old held firm.

It was until in the dying moments of the first half when PM Marapes’s kin, Edwin Ipape surprised everyone and most importantly the tiring Lions defense when he darted out of the dummy half and ran into our history books with a clean pair of heels.

Ipape was considered not worthy to be in the Seagulls team and dumped in tier three in Australia but the Kumuls coaching staff unbelievably kept faith in the Humble Huli. After dominating the Brits for 15 minutes, Ipape timed his run to perfection and gave us a memory that we will never forget.

War was declared against the Brits long before kickoff and the Kumuls showed their sheer intent when they controversially celebrated a James Graham concussion from a rampaging Luke page hit up in the opening collision. The only one British Lion who could have fought back didn’t pass his HIA test and was ruled out for the rest of the match.

Even the Port Moresby skies was painted in glorious red and gold; readers of omens would have had their work cut out for them when a gallant PNG orchids team savaged the English Roses into submission.

Hard hitting Orchids captain Elsie Albert was playing on a different plane from the rest of the players from both teams as she put on an extraordinary effort to led the orchids to a famous upset win. After the much criticized Orchids shocked the Roses, the Kumuls came out with the believe that they can win too.

The Kumuls came back after the break with more venom by employing the tropical humidity as an ally. There was no place to hide for the Brits as an electric NFS crowd became fuel for the Kumuls team that was surely on steroids.

The experience of the Brits mattered little as the Lions defense had no answers for the Melanesian natural flair and aggression. The Kumuls ran in tries one after the other from the explosive Watson Boas, Justin Olam, Alex Johnston and the machine of Nickson Putt. The precision boots of captain Rhys Martin made sure the lead was clean and a famous upset all but sealed.

The brilliance of Michael Marum and Stanley Tepend spearheading the rise of the Kumuls in recent times had reached its peak through this masterpiece performance against the Lions. The Brits looked as hapless as the Wales when they were put to the sword at the 2017 World Cup. Even the Welsh put up a fight in the second half, it seems the Brits wanted to get away as quickly as possible.

The sublime positional kicking game of Kyle Laybutt had the makeshift Lions back three work extra hard and gave the Kumuls the extra edge. Nixon Putt and Watson Boas are terminators in defense, their energy so contagious. Olam established his credibility in the Kumuls line up again and Edene Gebbie was threatening every time he ran. Luke Page led the Kumuls passion and brutalized the Lions. And then there is the Humble Huli, who would ever forget his 65 meters try.

Never have I seen a Kumuls bench come into a match and completely change the game until Edwin Ipape and company arrived on that fateful evening when the mobile pack that Marum is so fond about destroyed the Lions.

The age of the Pacific Islanders has arrived signaling the end of the reign of the big three of Australia, New Zealand and English. They will be put to the test regularly now. International Rugby League is truly alive. Our time has come.

The Kumuls perfect records at the National Football Stadium remains flawless for now. The Kiwis will put that to the test when they make a rare trip to Port Moresby in 2020. Let them come, an ambush awaits them.

.....Let your voice be heard, send your commentaries on any issue to us : email : pngfacts@gmail.com

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