England will face Papua New Guinea in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday after the Kumuls put on an impressive display to defeat Wales in the final match of the group stage.
Wales knew they had to win by 22 points or more here to set up a showdown with England on Saturday afternoon in Wigan. But it was apparent from an early stage that John Kear’s side would not be capable of causing a monumental upset, with Papua New Guinea comfortably dispatching the Welsh on a miserable night in Doncaster. It means the Kumuls have taken second spot in Group D, with two wins from their three games.
Wales finished bottom without a win to their name, but their predominantly part-time squad have shown plenty of effort and endeavour during their three games. Ultimately, though, they were no match for their opponents here, with the writing on the wall for the Welsh from an early stage when Kyle Laybutt’s clever solo try put the Kumuls into a 6-0 lead after eight minutes.
Five minutes later Stanley Tepend’s side took further control of proceedings when the impressive Nixon Putt crossed for the first of his two tries in the game, as he powered over the top of the Welsh defence. You felt that in horrendous conditions Wales had to score next to remain in contention, but it took only eight minutes for the Kumuls to score their third and, even at such an early stage, put the game beyond the Welsh.
There have been some stunning solo tries in the World Cup so far, and the Papua New Guinea winger Jimmy Ngutlik added his name to the list with a scintillating break from deep before Daniel Russell reached out to ground the ball nine minutes before the break to make it 24-0.
At that stage, with their hopes of qualification over, Wales had only pride to play for and they certainly showed plenty of that, coming close to breaching the Kumuls’ line on several occasions in the second half. But Papua New Guinea’s defence was just as impressive as their attack, with this performance giving Shaun Wane and England food for thought before their match on Saturday.
The Kumuls added two more tries in the second half, with Putt getting his second after crashing over from close range before Ngutlik followed suit in the final few minutes to put the seal on another impressive night for Papua New Guinea.