Sun 5 November 2017
National Football Stadium - Crowd: 14800

Kumuls edge past fighting Irish

Papua New Guinea remain unbeaten in Group C action, as they battled against Ireland, winning 14-6 in front of another sold-out crowd in Port Moresby. 

It wasn't a pretty game of football but the passion and commitment helped the Papua New Guinea Kumuls, thanks to tries to Garry Lo, Nene MacDonald and Waston Boas overcame fellow unbeaten side, Ireland Wolfhounds, whose lone try came from Michael McIIorum. 

Riding high off their opening thrashing of the Welsh, the Kumuls went into this afternoon, thinking it might be another fait accompli but they forgot that this Irish side, who defeated Italy in Townsville were ready to take it to them. 

The Irish caught them off guard, to find the opening try, four minutes into the game. Some chaos from the Liam Finn bomb created space for Michael McIIorum to stretch out a hand and surprise the capacity crowd inside the National stadium, as Finn converted. 

The Kumuls soon found their rhythm, slicing through the Irish defense with ease, at times. It was talismanic winger, Gary Lo, who plays for Sheffield Eagles in England, who bustled past a handful of defenders to make it 6-4.  

After the bright start, the game never rose too great heights. Papua New Guinea held a majority of the possession, going close several times, as Justin Olam and Lo continued to break through but the final pass went awry every time. Nene Macdonald held onto a chance in the 25th, stepped inside to give PNG the lead for the first time. 

For the Irish team, they gritted through the atmosphere, lack of football, and tackled their bottoms off to stay in the contest, some of that can be put down to the profligacy of the Kumuls - they made 20 errors in a stop-start contest - not showing the clinical edge they had, against Wales

The Wolfhounds weren't without their chances though. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was inches away from snatching victory in the 69th minute, from a Finn grubber but the St Helens forward couldn't put the ball down. 

PNG, in a scrappy manner, befitting the contest, pounced on an errant Irish pass to put away the contest, as Watson Boas dived firstly across the line then into the rapturous crowd in Port Moresby, as the Kumuls made it two for two, in a 14-6 win. 

3. Garry Lo

2. Watson Boas

1. Michael McIlorum