Northern Pride’s pre-season plans suffered a blow as visiting PNG champions Agmark Gurias caused a 29-22 upset in their trial match at Barlow Park tonight.
The hosts started strongly and opened the scoring through full-back Hezron Murgha, but it was the last time they were in front as the Gurias ran in six tries to four to clinch a famous win in front of their passionate fans.
The Pride threatened a comeback with a couple of late tries, but the Gurias secured a fully deserved and famous win through man-of-the-match halfback Ase Boas.
Murgha took advantage of a nervy start from the Gurias to cross after six minutes, but the visitors soon found their rhythm.
Boas opened their account on 16 minutes with a brilliant solo run, before Breadly Simon and Boas again stretched their lead to 14-6 at half-time.
Pride got back into the game three minutes after the restart through Davin Crampton, but the Gurias then went on a scoring spree.
Nelson Daplen powered his way over after a neat inside pass before Boas again had the vision to put full-back Albert Patak over.
Five-eighth Dion Aiye then sold a huge dummy to extend the visitors’ lead to 28-12 and a huge upset was definitely on the cards.
The Pride hit back on 68 minutes through teenage debutant Sam Pau, and big Aidan Smith crashed over to threaten a comeback at 22-28.
But Boas deservedly had the last say and popped over a field goal to seal a memorable win in front of several thousand passionate PNG fans.
NORTHERN PRIDE 22 (Tries: H. Murgha, Crampton, Pau, Smith. Conv: Nona 2 from 3, B. Murgha 1 from 1) AGMARK GURIAS 29 (Tries: Boas 2, Simon, Daplen, Aiye, Patak. Conv: Markus 1 from 5. Boas 1 from 1. Field goal: Boas).