David Mead starred as Papua New Guinea kicked off their World Cup campaign with a win, defeating Wales 50-4 in front of a sell-out home crowd in Port Moresby. The Brisbane Broncos fullback managed to grab himself a hattrick, with PNG Hunters brothers Ase and Watson Boas putting in a fine display in the halves.
It took just five minutes for the Kumuls to open the scoring. After an intense start, a slick Ase Boas pass unlocked the Welsh defence, with David Mead slicing through and rounding Elliot Kear at fullback to score out-wide. Boas couldn’t convert, but an early advantage would inspire the home side, as they continued to play an exciting brand of Rugby League.
Just four minutes later, the Boas-Mead combination came to the fore again. A neat inside ball from close range found Mead coming on at pace and there was really nothing the Wales defenders could do to stop him.
Despite the blistering heat and their opponents’ relentless attack, John Kear’s side managed to hold firm for 10 minutes and even push their own attack down to the PNG line. Clinicality seemed to be the key difference, however, as Morgan Knowles knocked on with the try-line beckoning, before the Kumuls went 90m to score on their next set.
It was Boas with the assist yet again, with his long pass finding Gold Coast’s Nene McDonald, who powered through three defenders to get the ball down. Second rower Rhyse Martin took over the kicking duties and was successful with his first attempt, extending his side’s lead to 14-0.
It was all one-way traffic, with Wales really struggling to contain the dynamic PNG attack and with seven minutes until halftime, there was still time for two more tries for the home side.
Firstly, a Mead break splintered the Wales defence, allowing for Watson Boas to grubber into the backfield and find Kato Ottio chasing through to go over untouched.
Before moments later, 6’4” forward Wellington Albert steamed onto a deft pass from Watson Boas to go in from 20m out. Martin was successful with both conversions, making it 26-0 to the Kumuls at the break.
The second half picked up where it left off, with PNG scoring two tries in the opening 10 minutes. Strangely, both tries were effectively carbon copies of each other, with Ase Boas putting Martin through a gap from about 10m out on both occasions.
The goal-kicking second rower then turned from scorer to creator five minutes later, showing his kicking skills aren’t just restricted to the tee. A perfectly-weighted grubber from dummy half hung up in the Welsh in-goal area for Justin Olam to fly through and ground it.
Despite his early double, it took until the 60th minute for David Mead to complete his hattrick. It was another grubber kick, this time from James Segeyaro, that found space in behind the Welsh line and it was a simple grounding for Mead to pick up his third try.
The game was well and truly gone now but what was most encouraging for Michael Marum was that his side never took their foot off the gas. With just ten minutes to go and the score at 44-0, you could forgive them for letting up slightly, but that wasn’t the case, as Kumuls veteran Paul Aiton went over for his side’s 10th try of the afternoon and notching his side the half-century.
Kurt Baptiste darted out of dummy half from 20m out, drifting laterally before hitting Aiton on a good line to put him through a gap
The Welsh spirit was admirable for most of the afternoon and right on the hooter, they managed to grab a consolation try. A cross-field kick from Matt Seamark was fumbled by Garry Lo, allowing Regan Grace to nick the ball and ground it, with Courtney Davies converting. His try was met with a nice applause from the PNG natives, who appreciated the effort their opponents had put in.
It just wasn’t to be for John Kear’s men, who were battered by the conditions and the ruthless Papua New Guinea attack. As far as Michael Marum will be concerned, however, things look very positive. His side have a very unorthodox style and it will certainly be interesting to see how they fare against some of the competition’s stronger sides.
PNG: David Mead (capt), Justin Olam, Kato Ottio, Nene Macdonald, Garry Lo, Ase Boas, Watson Boas, Stanton Albert, Wartovo Puara, Luke Page, Rhyse Martin, Willie Minoga, Paul Aiton. Interchange: Kurt Baptiste, Wellington Albert, James Segeyaro, Enock Maki.
Wales: Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams, Michael Channing, Andrew Gay, Regan Grace, Courtney Davies, Matt Seamark, Craig Kopczak (capt), Steve Parry, Philip Joseph, Rhodri Lloyd, Chester Butler, Morgan Knowles. Interchange: Ben Morris, Matty Fozard, Sam Hopkins, Ben Evans.
Referee: Ben Cummins
Scoring Sequence: 4-0, 8-0, 14-0, 20-0, 26-0, 32-0, 36-0, 40-0, 44-0, 50-0, 50-6