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Ball play

Manila Storm Defeats Albay Vulcans in Inaugural Match in Bicol


BY ERICK ELEFANTE – MANILA Storms defeated Albay Vulcans 36-14 in a milestone setting Rugby League match last Friday December 11 at what can be considered as exotic  Bicol University grounds in Legazpi City in the province of Albay,  very much different from the traditional football grounds in Australia or Northen England.

With the goal post made out of Bamboo, the game showcased the passion and influence of PNG nationals who form the majority of the players from both opposing Manila Storm and Albay Vulcans.

Easily, one would say the eagerness of the PNG players had rubbed on the enthusiasm for the game among local Filipino players.

PNG is probably the only country in the world where players would get into two vans and leave at 9 pm on a Thursday night and travel for 13 hours to play a game the following Friday afternoon. I was all for the love of Rugby League and introducing it to their Filipino  sports aficionados.

PNG national and Manila Storm coach Tim Buipe said his team arrived at Lagazpi city 10am Friday morning and rested for 5 hours before heading off to Bicol University Ground for the 3:00 pm game.

Ric Raymond Bellen the founder of the Albay Vulcans also said that many PNG students in neighbouring provinces who heard that a Rugby League game would be played in Legazpi city travelled for three hours to come and watch the game!

The match was preceded by children playing a 10 minute Rugby game as a curtain raiser.

At 3:15pm the Manila Storm and the Abay Vulcans entered the field with the game preceded by the playing of both the Philippines and PNG national anthems.The game was played in the official 80 minute format, with 40 minute halves.

The Manila Storm had an 18 man squad but through good use of their bench they managed to hold off determined Albay Vulcans attacks on their home field.

After almost two years of waiting, the Albay Vulcans finally played their first official game of Rugby League,  The team had well planned and organized set pieces, which  was understandable considering their Union background. The home crowd appreciated their player’s effort, with Manila Storms coach Tim Buipe saying the shouting was deafening at times, especially when the home team was in the Manila Storm’s half.

Tim Buipe said that the Manila Storm players improved from their first hit out a month earlier against the Hong Kong Residents team, with better movement of the ball in attacking play and crucially less dropped ball from their inaugural game.

A crowd of 300 spectators witnessed the game. University of Perpetual Help student, Martin Yanda. who was a former Half Back for the Lae Snax Tigers Rugby League club in PNG’s National Rugby League Digicel Cup, refereed the game.

Out of the total 36 points, try scorers for Manila Storm were Greg Ranza (PNG) 1, Benny Noki (PNG) 1, James Osias (Filipino) 2, Michael Tome Jr (Filipino) 1, Lauren Chris (Filipino) 1, Stanley Masalai (PNG) 1.

Albay Vulcans 14 points came from tries by Emmanuel Moramul (PNG) 1, Marlon Dela Cruz (Filipino) 1, Louis Jiano Aboga (Filipino) 1. Game man of the match award went to Manila Storm Lock #13 James Osias.