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Two early carnivals to enable the chosen players to represent PNG at the Bicentenial Test Series to practice were played. In late August, Goroka Polocrosse held a carnival. In the absence of Grant, at James Cook University and Kipas, battling to harvest cane after a big fire in the Dumpu cane, Jonah and Kimber played with Merv Mangan. Bruce Duffield, Dan and Mike made up the Ramu1 team that beat Goroka 1 (Rose Palm, John Lawson, John Tuckerman, Gordon, Arthur and Ian Veldsman).
The action moved to Nadzab, where Markham Valley hosted a carnival. We played on Friday, 16th September, Independence Day, and Saturday. Tony Neylon, from Victoria, the guest coach/umpire, was present. Grant arrived from Townsville, and a full strength Ramu 1 defeated Goroka in the A Grade, Ramu 2 also won. In the D Grade, Sue Dyer, Ann Hatt and Barb played in one section, with stockmen making up the team. Sue, Tina, Ann and Angela Blomfield had played together in earlier years, for Ramu Mixed. They looked most attractive in the red shirts. Angela had been playing for Markham Valley, since she and Rob moved to Maranbung. She was also a very active organizer of that Club.
The Nationals were held at Dumpu. David "Skip" McIvor came from Killarney to commentate. Just before the carnival, Tony and his son, Skip, Dot Jephcott and a Scottish friend went to Madang for a quick visit. The road to Madang was quite good, with all the rivers bridged.
There were fifteen teams competing in the Nationals, each of Goroka, Markham, and Ramu Clubs had five teams, including Juniors from MV and Ramu. A large crowd, including a lot of teenagers home from boarding school, and an entertaining commentary from Skip and his local helpers made the carnival lively with late nights at the homestead.
The usual format of playing the first round as a qualifying round for A/B and C/D grades, followed by a round robin within the grades was played. The Junior teams each had a game against a D Grade team for variety. In the final, Markham (Simon Vavasour, Keri, Euston Blomfield, Wau Margo Beirne and Eron) defeated Ramu (Joshua, Emma and Daniel Leahy, Louise Duffield, David and Yanopa). None of the five ex-patriate children went on to play polocrosse later.
In the D Grade, Goroka was superior to a scratch Ramu team, which included Barb Jephcott, Sue Dyer, with some new players from Dumpu and Gusap. Ann Hatt had had a fall and broken her arm. Another accident, not related to the game, but in a vehicle, left Goroka's Micky sadly a paraplegic.
Goroka were overwhelming superior in the C Grade with John Tuckerman playing No.3, with his children, Matthew as No.1 and Holly as No.2. The second section comprised former Ramu players Mato and Osifa with David Kelso. They defeated Markham's Bill Gardner, Sally Kennedy, Awaya, Huon, Angie Blomfield and Hamish Murdoch 21 - 4. The most exciting final was the B Grade between Goroka and Ramu. Ramu (Kimao, Sandi, Jonah, Damien, Kimba and Lucas) narrowly defeated Goroka (Rose Palm, Mata, Benson, Locklan Hoskin, John Lawson and Itap) 13 - 11.
The A Grade was a boil-over for the Ramu team, the same as the one that lost to Markham in 1987, defeating Goroka 22 - 7. James Launder had moved to Goroka and played No.3 for Arthur and Richard Palm. They were opposed by Mike, Kipas and Grant riding Mike Bromley's Flashlight. Bruce Duffield, playing for his name on the A.L.Rose Cup for the first time, was supported by Dan as No.2 and Merv. He could do no wrong, out scoring Gordon Spannagle who was backed by Ian Veldsman and Paul Frame.
Ramu 'A' with A L Rose Cup
Les Russell, Waubi, Kipas, Mata, Bob, Kimayo
The individual awards went to:
A Grade: 1 Grant, 2 Richard, 3 Merv.
B.Grade: 1 Kimao, 2 Sandi, 3 Jonah.
C Grade: 1 Matthew, 2 David, 3 Osifa.
D Grade: 1 Kamaki, 2 Sue, 3 Lex Willis.
Grant won the Best player for the third time, Kipas won the Best and Fairest, Arthur's Michael (bred at Dumpu) was voted the Horse of the Year, and Flashlight the Horse of the Carnival.