Irish edged out in Papua New Guinea cauldron
Ireland's last-eight hopes were all but dashed as Papua New Guinea stayed on course for a World Cup quarter-final showdown with England after seeing off a spirited challenge by Mark Aston's team in Port Moresby.
The Kumuls appear to have top spot in Group C sewn up with only the United States standing in their way. Ireland play Wales next weekend with what looks like little to play for but pride such is the score difference (36) between themselves and Papau New Guinea. And the tournament co-hosts had enough to edge a scrappy contest 14-6 in front of 25,000 people 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.
The Wolfhounds were rewarded for their positive start on five minutes when McIlorum touched down but were punished as Lo underlined his power by brushing off several attempted tackles on his way to the line. Papau New Guinea took a deserved lead when MacDonald who stepped back inside to score. 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.