Saturday 25 November 2017

Papua New Guinea set up potential England quarter-final after beating Ireland

Michael McIlorum scored for Ireland but they lost to Papa New Guinea.
Michael McIlorum scored for Ireland but they lost to Papa New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea are on course for a World Cup quarter-final showdown with England after seeing off a spirited challenge by Ireland in Port Moresby.

Mark Aston's team had their own aspirations of making the last eight following their victory over Italy but the Kumuls appear to have top spot in Group C sewn up with only the United States standing in their way.

The tournament co-hosts failed to hit the heights of their demolition of Wales yet had enough to edge a scrappy contest 14-6 at a sold-out National Football Stadium.

Ireland took an early lead through Wigan hooker Michael McIlorum but PNG dominated the rest of the half and went into the break 8-6 up courtesy of tries from Castleford-bound Garry Lo and Nene Macdonald.

The Kumuls produced a nervy second-half performance in front of a passionate home crowd and it took Watson Boas' try two minutes from time to finish off Ireland.

Papua New Guinea overpowered Wales from the first whistle last weekend but Kyle Amor and George King put a huge hit on Stanton Albert in the opening set as Ireland refused to take a backwards step.

The Wolfhounds were rewarded for their positive start on five minutes when they kept the ball alive and McIlorum touched down after the hosts failed to deal with Shannon McDonnell's kick into the in-goal area.

But Ireland invited pressure on themselves with indiscipline and were punished as PNG moved the ball out to the left where Lo underlined his power by brushing off several attempted tackles on his way to the line.

The Lo-inspired Kumuls had lifted their intensity and Ireland were struggling to go with them as fatigue set in.

PNG took a deserved lead when Ase Boas passed over the top to Macdonald who stepped back inside to score, although Rhyse Martin was again unsuccessful from the tee.

The Kumuls continued to dominate and pile pressure on Ireland but the Wolfhounds stood firm to go into half-time just two points down.

The opening 40 minutes was punctuated by errors and both teams continued to cough up the ball after the restart.

Ireland dug deep on their own line as PNG turned the screw and then enjoyed a rare spell of possession at the other end.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook failed to touch down Liam Finn's kick and Justin Olam had a try ruled out for a forward pass in a frenetic finish.

Ireland threw caution to the wind as time ran out and Watson Boas took advantage by kicking a loose ball ahead to touch down and spark wild celebrations.

Press Association

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