PS Rutz picked up their first Port Moresby Soccer Association title since 2005 to end Mungkas FC’s three-year reign at the top of the football pyramid in Papua New Guinea’s capital city, Port Moresby.
Rutz, who took part in the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League for the one and only time in 2017 under the name of PS United, secured the title with two games remaining after an exceptional season saw them go unbeaten.
University Inter, who represented the country at the 2007/08 OFC Champions League, finished in second place, while reigning champions Mungkas finished third.
The Port Moresby Premier League has reportedly been in existence since the 1960s, but has only consistently been reported on since the late 1990s. During that time, University have been by far the most successful team, having picked up the title seven times, with their first coming in 1996 and their last in 2012.
More recent years, however, have been dominated by Bougainville-infused Mungkas, who last year became the first team to win three consecutive titles. In 2016, they defeated Yamaros in the Grand Final with a 1-0 victory, while the following season they triumphed over University 2-0 courtesy of goals from Abel Redenut and Elton Banem, both of whom played for FC Bougainville in this year’s National Soccer League.
Last year saw the Playoff and Grand Final format discarded, with the winners of the league being crowned champions. Mungkas breezed to their third title with eleven wins and three draws, remaining undefeated.
This year’s competition saw the league expanded from eight to ten, with promoted sides Leilam and Seeadler joining the eight remaining teams from the previous season, six of whom were former champions: the aforementioned Mungkas and University Inter, alongside Rutz (2000, 2005), Cosmos (2003), Maclaren (2008) and Momase (2013). The line-up was completed by two newer sides, Keleiruna and FC Genesis.
Rutz made an impressive start to the season, winning their opening three matches before a hard-fought draw with Mungkas on the fourth matchday. This would be two of only four dropped points in the opening half of the season, the rest coming from a 2-2 draw against University. Going into the halfway stage, Rutz were seven points clear of Mungkas and surprise package Leilam and on course for a third title.
A 1-1 draw against bottom-of-the-table Cosmos in the opening fixture of the second half of the season hinted at a wobble, but a crucial 2-1 victory over an over-extended Mungkas (who were taking part in the National Club Championship) three games later, followed by a vital win over their nearest challengers University Inter the following week made it a foregone conclusion, and a 1-0 win over Leilam on October 13 sealed their first title since the mid-2000s, before they completed their unbeaten season on 19 October with a 4-1 victory over Momase.
Meanwhile, Digitec Vitiaz and Blue Kumuls have been promoted to the Premier Division ahead of next season. Vitiaz, who were in Division Two just two seasons ago, finished three points ahead of Blue Kumuls, who will be returning to the top flight after a two-year absence.
We congratulate PS Rutz on an excellent season, and look forward to seeing how they, and the PMSA Premier Division, will move forward from here.