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Hohola Flies edge Gulf West to claim POMRL competition

The 2023 Port Moresby Rugby League (POMRL) Grand Final saw the Hohola Flies pull off a nail-biting 18-14 victory over the Gulf West to clinch the premiership on Sunday, November 19, at Santos National Football Stadium.

After a few weeks of delay due to circumstances beyond POMRL Board’s control, the issue got ironed out and the grand final was finally held over the weekend, successfully capping off the biggest third tier competition in the city on a positive note.

The Gulf West were dominating the proceedings early on in the contest. However, the Hohola Flies scored the first try through center Thomas Kaikai, who blocked the fifth last kick from halfback Joel Tapis, scooped up the loose ball and ran 80 meters to open up the game with a crucial 4-pointer. Halfback, Pokapen Pes, nailed the conversion successfully, giving his side a 6-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Gulf West responded with a try through a brilliant second-man play ball movement, which saw inside center Titus Peter, fend off his opposing number to score in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the scores 6-4.

Through repeated ball possession and field territory, the Gulf West capitalized on that opportunity and scored another try through Peter, who bagged his second try. Five eight, Steward Karo, failed to nail the extras, but the West took a slight 8-4 lead over the Flies.

The arm wrestle continued until a few minutes remaining before the half time, the Flies received two penalties inside of West’s red zone. They opted for two conversion kicks. Pes slotted the two conversions successfully, equalizing the scores on 8-points apiece at the break.

In the second stanza, the West side lads were the first team to score in the opening minutes through Peter, who crossed over the line for his third try. Karo successfully slotted the conversion, increasing the lead to 14-8.

The eventual premiers did not shy away. They held their composure, regrouped and scored their second try to tie the scores on 14-14.

Right on the stroke of full time, the Hohola Flies scored a match winning try in the corner, getting the mad fans on the edge of their seats and breaking the hearts of the Gulf West with an 18-14 grandstand finish.

Even though the decider was marred with melee between the players and a couple of controversial calls being made by the two officiating referees, as well as ill-discipline and ball-handling errors from both teams, the big dance ended peacefully.

The minor hiccup did not overshadow the good game of footy being displayed by the raw talents. There were some flashes of individual brilliance and exciting team cohesion. Both sides lived up to the grand final hype and expectation, delivering a bloodied, brutal and physical mouthwatering affair.

Interestingly, the Hohola Flies Under 20 team defeated Tarangau in a golden point thriller (15-14) to snatch the title. Both the A Grade and U-20 teams of Hohola Flies have made history and won two trophies in their respective divisions, ending their 2023 campaign in style.

Meanwhile, in the women’s grand final, the Paga Panthers beat Royals 10-4 and walked away with the title. The women’s clash was also interesting to watch. They bagged both the minor and premiership title of this season.

All in all, despite going through a few hiccups this season, the POMRL has concluded its 2023 season successfully and peacefully. The board and management of POMRL look forward to making the competition become bigger and better next year.

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