Papua New Guinea served notice that they will be no pushovers in their Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against England next Saturday as they brought an emphatic end to Wales’ valiant campaign in Doncaster.
Stanley Tepend’s men scored six tries and Leeds Rhino Rhyse Martin was faultless with the boot to wrap up a 36-0 victory that confirmed their place as Group B runners-up and with it an evident danger to the hosts’ hopes of further progression.
Orchestrated by Leigh pair Edwin Ipape and Lachlan Lam, driven by a merciless forward line and inspired by the galloping energy of double try scorer Jimmy Ngutlik out wide, the favourites simply had too much for the wilting Welsh to counter.
🏴🇵🇬 Fireworks guaranteed on November 5.
A ruthless England side face the high-flying Kumuls on Saturday – you won't want to miss this!
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) October 31, 2022
Nevertheless coach John Kear will be proud of the way his part-timers continued to press valiantly forward, showing the kind of spirit that had seen them emerge with plenty of credit from previous group-stage defeats to Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Teeming rain at the Eco-Power Stadium might have been more suited to the Welsh Valleys than the Papuan tropics but it did not take long for the purely mathematical last-eight hopes of Kear’s men to be washed away.
The Welsh made the first inroads through Bailey Antrobus down the middle but Papua New Guinea got on the scoreboard within eight minutes when hugely impressive half-back Kyle Laybutt smashed through a trio of red shirts to touch down.
The near-total dominance of the powerful Papuan forwards was soon apparent and when second row Nixon Putt flopped over for the second from point-blank range in the 12th minute, it became a damage limitation exercise for Kear’s men.
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Oliver Olds almost created a Wales try with a clever grubber, but moments later PNG sparked back into life when Ngutlik charged from inside his own half to go over for his side’s third.
Dan Russell scored the fourth Papuan try to make it 24-0 on the half-time hooter, and the fifth arrived the other side of the interval when Putt went over for his second of the night.
Wales pinned back the hosts in a gallant quest to finish their World Cup campaign with some richly deserved points but instead it was the impressive Ngutlik – clearly one to watch for Shaun Wane’s men at the weekend – who latched onto an up-and-under to seal his own double and with it a comprehensive win.