Papua New Guinea 32-16 Cook Islands Highlights: Leigh Leopards men cause havoc as Leeds Rhinos star denied history

Papua New Guinea have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World Cup where they’re likely to meet England after tonight’s win over the Cook Islands.

Another exciting game from Group D, there were some exciting passages of play as well as some crunching tackles as the game was played in front of some great fans who created a great atmosphere.

Highlights:

Kumuls cover defence
The opening try looked certain to go the way of Cook Islands when an ambitious pass from Lachlan Lam was taken by Anthony Gelling. But Lam and a cohort of his teammates hunted the former Wigan centre down and even brought down Reubenn Rennie who Gelling smuggled the ball to. The Cook Islands continued their defence until a penalty saw Steve Marsters make it 2-0.

Tai tears down field but history is alluded
Rodrick Tai scored one of the best solo tries of the tournament as he bust through the Cook Islands defence from a 20 metre restart and ran the length to score in the corner. Unfortunately, Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin missed the conversion so the World Record for most goals in a row without missing him alluded him but his tally of 41 is still the joint record alongside Liam Finn and Jamie Ellis.

No lay-off for Laybutt
Kyle Laybutt got the Kumuls’ second try of the game as a set play created space out wide with plenty of runners wanting the ball. However, Laybutt didn’t need to lay the ball off and instead burrowed over himself. Martin did convert this one, just 41 more to go.

Cook Islands exploit lack of numbers
Papua New Guinea found themselves a man down due to a yellow card to Mackenzie Yei and the Cook Islands exploited this masterfully with a lovely move down the left wing which created a walk in for winger Paul Ulberg.

Super League watch out
Super League clubs better be ready because Edwin Ipape is headed to Super League and the strength, pace, power and agility he has will make him a constant threat to tired defences. He was again a joy to watch after claiming the Man of the Match last week.

PNG power through
The Kumuls wasted no time in re-establishing their lead scoring in the first set of the second half after a great bust up the middle got them down field and a short ball down the right edge saw Rhyse Martin power over.

Johnston’s flick
After a frantic piece of play from a kick, Alex Johnston ended up with the ball, showed great pace to get on the outside of his defender and flick the ball to Tai. Tai ducked under the defenders and pretty much rolled his way to the try line.

Lam on hand to score
Last week Lachlan Lam showed great presence of mind to push up in support of a break to score and he did the same tonight this time showing great strength and awareness to see off the chasing defenders and get over for the try.

Gelling controversy
The Cook Islands got themselves back into the game when Gelling wrestled the ball down in the corner. The try was referred to the video referee and given despite there being more than a suspicion of a knock on.

It’s Olam over
The victory was sealed for PNG, and subsequently a likely quarter-final clash with England was almost secured, when Johnston showed great composure to send Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam down the wing to score from close range.

Gelling intercept leads to Iro try
In times gone by on this ground we’ve seen Anthony Gelling go the length but as he claimed a second intercept of the night, he again didn’t have the legs to go all the way but that created the position for the Cook Islands to then go wide and exploit the disarray as Kayal Iro crossed.

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