Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Papua New Guinea win, likely earning quarter-final spot

AP, SYDNEY

Watson Boas yesterday scored two minutes from full time to clinch Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) 14-6 win over Ireland at the Rugby League World Cup, likely propelling the Kumuls into the quarter-finals with cohosts Australia and New Zealand.

PNG held a two-point lead for 52 minutes before Boas pounced on a dropped pass in the Ireland backline, kicked through and won the race to the ball to score.

The win kept PNG unbeaten after two rounds and atop Group C from which only one team will progress to the playoffs, likely to face England in the quarter-finals.

Italy and Fiji kept their playoff hopes alive with emphatic wins in Group D and will meet on Friday to decide which team progresses from that group.

The Italians have a 1-1 record after their 42-6 win over the US, while Fiji are unbeaten after a record 72-6 win over hapless Wales.

Taane Milne was man of the match with three line breaks and six off loads, but Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne was also influential, scoring the first try of the second half and creating several others.

Fiji ripped apart the Wales defense with 15 line breaks and 18 offloads.

“Our forwards really stepped up and made it easy for the boys out wide,” Milne said. “We’ve still got a bit to work on but we’ll focus on Italy now.”

In Port Moresby, PNG fell behind to Ireland early after allowing fullback Scott Grix to score a try from a speculative kick by winger Shannon McDonnell.

The Kumuls hit back soon after with powerful winger Garry Lo scoring PNG’s first try in the 15th minute, before taking the lead on Nene McDonald’s 26th minute try to the delight of a capacity crowd of 14,800.

After leading 8-6 at halftime, it was not until Boas’ 78th minute try that PNG made the game safe, with frequent handling errors preventing further scoring opportunities.

“It feels great,” Kumuls player Kurt Baptiste said. “We knew we were in for a tough challenge today. The Irish really gave it everything, but the boys stuck at it, kept defending and we held them out.”

Joe Mantellato scored a try and converted seven others in Italy’s 46-0 win over the US that followed its 36-12 loss to Ireland in the first round.

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