Papua New Guinea v Wales preview

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Papua New Guinea Men v Wales Men Tuesday 6:30am at Eco-Power Stadium, Doncaster

Kumuls looking to clinch a Quarter Finals spot

The last group match before the finals kick off will see the powerful Papua New Guinea taking on Wales, who sit at the bottom of the Group D table.

The Kumuls very nearly pulled off a mighty upset in the opening week as they went down to Tonga 24-18 before beating the Cook Islands in the second round by 32-16. Their tenacity and power has always been their strength and they have an abundance of it again at this World Cup, however with their improvements in ball play, they are going to be the favourites in this match and if they reach the Quarters, will cause their opponents their a lot of grief.

Wales might be winless, but they have not been disgraced, despite being in a Group with 3 other sides that are all big powerful ball runners. They narrowly lost to the Cook Islands 18-12 in the first round and were comfortably beaten by Tonga 32-6 in the second game. Wales though have shown that they do punch above their weight and will not go away meekly.

Papua New Guinea have a very unique style all their own, given the majority of their players are from their own local competition, which is a combination of powerful running and second phase play that differs from that of the nations that are filled with predominantly NRL and Super League players. Edwin Ipape typifies this style perfectly, with his good control and slick passing from dummy half combined with his very powerful running, making him an immensely dangerous threat out of dummy half and especially so when close to the opposition line.

Wales have a competitive outfit across the park but are lacking a little creatively in the halves. Fullback Caleb Aekins and rake Motty Fozard have provided good support to the halves, however a lot of the Welsh attack has been a bit limited in the tournament thus far. They have a rather stoic defence which can frustrate opposition sides.

Last meeting: RLWC 2017 (Group C/D) - PNG 50 Wales 6

Who to watch: Edwin Ipape as mentioned above is a somewhat under-rated player, but he is a genuine threat. Lachlan Lam has shown how comfortable he is as the general and is building good combinations with his team mates with whom he has spent little time with. The Kumuls are a squad constantly on the improve.

Caleb Aekins makes solid metres from his kick returns and he will need to have a huge game in this area so as to give the Welsh Dragons their best chance of scoring a victory here. Matty Fozard has been rather sharp as per usual from dummy half and will again be doing a mountain of work in defence and attack in the middle.

The favourite: Papua New Guinea are comfortable favourites here.

My tip: The Kumuls will be looking to cement their place in the quarters, but have the luxury of knowing the result of the other Group D game which could determine their fate. If Tonga beats Cook Islands, than PNG are almost certainly going to qualify. If the Cook Islands win, then Wales are a very slim chance of moving to the quarters if they can win, albeit by a big margin. Despite this, I think Papua New Guinea will play safe by naming a near full strength side and will go out with the aim of putting on a score. PNG by 24. 

1. Alex Johnston 19. Jimmy Ngutlik 3. Nene Macdonald 4. Justin Olam 20. Rodrick Tai 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Lachlan Lam 8. Wellington Albert 9. Edwin Ipape 17. Emmanuel Waine 11. Nixon Putt 12. Rhyse Martin 13. Jacob Alick 14. Wesser Tenza 15. Daniel Russell 21. Sherwin Tanabi 22. Jeremiah Simbiken 24. Zev John

1. Caleb Aekins 2. Rhys Williams 4. Will Evans 6. Elliot Kear 22. Kyle Evans 14. Ollie Olds 7. Josh Ralph 8. Anthony Walker 9. Matty Fozard 24. Gavin Bennion 11. Rhodri Lloyd 17. Bailey Antrobus 16. Joe Burke 10. Dan Fleming 12. Chester Butler 15. Curtis Davies 18. Connor Davies 19. Mike Butt

Referees: Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, James Child; Video Referees: Chris Kendall;

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