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Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
The last month has arguably been the best block of international rugby league in many a year. It was fitting then that it ended with another remarkable upset. Papua New Guinea dominated Great Britain 28-10.
It looked anything but a comfortable Kumul victory at the start, with the Lions dominating the ruck and scoring two tries in the first 22 minutes.
The second, a simple dummy half run from Josh Hodgson against a backpedaling defence suggested that Papua New Guinea weren’t keeping up with the pace of the game.
To their absolute credit, they fought their way back and started to force repeat sets. Edwin Ipape’s bust through a tired Lions defence in the 40th minute was a sign that they were back in the game and so it proved to be.
The second half started as the first half finished, with the Kumuls dominating possession and territory, resulting in three tries by the 60th-minute mark.
All of them came through kicks and all showed the desperation of the Kumuls to win tonight. They just wanted it more.
A towering bomb by Kyle Laybutt, with 14 minutes to go, was dropped by Lomax and Nixon Putt was jogging on the spot to pick up the loose ball and seal victory for his country.
Make no mistake, this is a huge win for Papua New Guinea. Exposure to the Queensland Cup has obviously hardened this team, whilst the NRL scouts would have paid close notice.
Edene Gebbie has already been picked up by South Sydney and there will be more.
Great Britain were obviously impacted by the loss of James Graham but their problem throughout the tour was a lack of points.
With the likes of Josh Hodgson, John Bateman and Gareth Widdop, that seems hard to believe. Wayne Bennett has plenty of work to do.
Papua New Guinea 28
Great Britain 10
In many ways, it has been a historic few weeks for international rugby league, which is now firmly back on the calendar. However, for 2019, the international season finishes tonight with Great Britain travelling to Port Moresby to take on Papua New Guinea. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 6:30pm AEDT.
Papua New Guinea will go into this match with plenty of confidence tonight, following their tight 22-20 loss to Fiji. Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, they will fancy their chances of an upset.
They have a sprinkling of NRL or Super League experience, with Alex Johnston, David Mead, Rhyse Martin, Justin Olam, Luke Page, Kyle Laybutt and Wellington Albert all shouldering the load in this match up.
Winger Edene Gebbie was outstanding against the Bati and many NRL recruitment officers will be keen to see whether he can back that up with another strong performance.
Great Britain have had a very disappointing tour, losing to both Tonga and New Zealand. Perhaps it has been the manner of the losses which has been the most disappointing, averaging just over seven points per game. They have had no fluency in attack.
The side is largely unchanged, with John Bateman a chance to miss the game through suspension. Zak Hardaker is a chance to return from a shoulder injury, to replace an out of sorts Blake Austin on the wing.
They will be desperate to go home on a winning note.
In front of a big home crowd, I expect PNG to go with Great Britain for the first 40 minutes.
However, fatigue is likely to get the better of this PNG team and I think the British will get their first win of the tour.
Great Britain by 14.
When: 6:30pm AEDT, Saturday evening
Where: Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
TV: Fox League, GEM
Online: Live Pass, Kayo
Betting: Papua New Guinea $3.10, Great Britain $1.36
Papua New Guinea
1. Alex Johnston, 2. Edene Gebbie, 3. David Mead, 4. Justin Olam, 5. Stargroth Amean, 6. Kyle Laybutt, 7. Watson Boas, 8. Wellington Albert, 9. Wartovo Puara, 10. Luke Page, 11. Nixon Putt, 12. Dan Russell, 13. Rhyse Martin
Interchange: 14. Edwin Ipape, 15. Garry Lo, 16. Stanton Albert, 17. Moses Meninga
1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Jack Hughes, 4. Jake Connor, 5. Blake Austin, 6. Gareth Widdop, 7. Jackson Hastings, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Tom Burgess, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. James Graham
Interchange: 14. Josh Jones, 15. Luke Thompson, 16. Daryl Clark, 17. Alex Walmsley