There will be no more Digicel Cup games played in Goroka this season or at least until the strict Pandemic protocols are eased.

PNG National Rugby League Competition (NRLC) Manager Stanley Hondina said this following the burning down of the kunai gate house at NSI and invasion of the field by spectators during the Round 8 clash between Bintangor Goroka Lahanis and Lae Snax Tigers in Goroka yesterday Sunday August 30, 2020.

“Under the protocols, a pre-assessment was carried out by the organisers and I and only 500 spectators were to be allowed into NSI to watch their first game this season,” Hondina said. “However, the passion of those spectators who could not get in, couldn’t hold back and 10 minutes into the 2nd half, took off the main gate and certain parts of the iron fence to gain access to the game. They actually behaved well to cheer for their team only to see them going down to the Tigers.”

He said as they were running in, some youths torched the kunai gate house with the ‘Welcome to NSI’ signboard.

Hondina added that towards to the end of the game, the clean zone area -restricted to players and officials only – was completely disregarded with spectators invading the field to celebrate a Lahanis try. 

“The organisers complied and upheld the protocols requirements well,” Hondina said. “Police personnel who were in attendance to ensure the protocols were enforced were outnumbered and overpowered by the huge crowd.”

“As a consequence of the breaches of these protocols, no more Digicel Cup games will be hosted by the Lahanis in Goroka for the rest of this season and/or until such time the protocols especially on crowd numbers are eased or lifted,” Hondina said. “I had a meeting with the NSI staff and Lahanis management and the Lahanis have agreed to meet the costs of any damages done to the NSI facilities.” 

He said that the day before on Saturday August 29, 2020 in Minj, all protocols were adhered to and the crowd of 600 allowed in and those who were turned back behaved well. 

“I personally congratulate Waghi Tumbe Management and John Ambane ground staff for successfully hosting their first game against Mt Hagen Eagles last Saturday,” Hondina said. “Tumbe will be given another chance to host one more game should the need arise with three rounds remaining,”