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2007 Wales 50 Papua New Guinea 10

28th October 2007, 07:20

2007 Wales 50 Papua New Guinea 10

In front of a bumper and enthusiastic crowd at Celtic Crusaders

In front of a bumper and enthusiastic crowd at Celtic Crusaders' Brewery Field ground, Wales warmed up for their big date in Scotland next week with an excellent 50-10 win over Papua New Guinea.

Nine players who are on Celtic Crusaders books turned out at their home ground and they impressed their loyal supporters with a gritty hard-working display which will put them in high spirits for the World Cup qualifier. The win made it three from three for Wales against their south sea island opponents, following victories in 1991 and 2000, but this win will probably go down as one of the most memorable, if not surprising. PNG came to Wales with a strong squad, if hampered by the loss of Hull KR duo Stanley Gene and Makali Aizu, and were predicted by many to win the game, but as coach Martin Hall said afterwards, Wales had the determination and it was a fine team performance.

"When you score 50 points in an international, it's more than one player that's played well, it's a good team performance," Hall said. "I think everyone anticipated a closer game but we played well. Papua New Guinea are a good side - they held an Australian team on their own patch a few weeks ago so we needed to do well today, and we did."

Hall is now looking forward to next week's World Cup qualifier where Wales need to overcome a seven-point deficit to qualify for next year's Finals in Australia.

"Today was an important game but it's nothing compared to next week," Hall added. "There was a lot of pride and passion shown in the Welsh shirt today and if we can do that again next week, then we should complete our job."

Both sides had early chances in the match. Iestyn Harris, winning his first Welsh Rugby League cap since the 2000 World Cup, kicked a hopeful grubber but it was picked up by Michael Mark. New Crusaders signing Luke Dyer broke away minutes later but was pulled into touch by Steve Franciscus and Tu Maori. The resulting scrum created a chance for the Kumuls by Gimapau Keimelo fumbled the pass when he had a near clear run to goal.

But the visitors eventually took the lead on 11 minutes. Jessie Joe created the chance, he slipped the ball to Kevin Prior who in turn passed to George Moni who went in under the sticks. Salford's John Wilshere converted.

Wales levelled things less than five minutes later following a penalty. Phil Joseph received the ball from the quick tap and producing an excellent solo effort, barged his way past five of the Kumul backline to ground. Harris converted.

From kick-off, Harris made the second try, slipping a pass to Bradford club-mate Dave Halley who ran in the sticks. Harris' kick made it 12-6 to Wales.

There was almost a third try straight away for the Welsh from kick-off again but Jordan James' try was ruled out due to a Craig Kopczak forward pass.

But former captain Damien Gibson did get Wales third on the half-hour, finishing off a fine passing move to ground in the corner.

PNG had two early second half chances but both were spilled - first by Kevin Prior and the second by Rod Griffin. Wales took advantage of the let-off and attacked in force.

Ian Webster created a chance for Matt James but the Bradford Bulls forward didn't have the pace. However Lee Briers set up Gibson to score in the corner again for his second of the game. Harris kicked well to give Wales a 16-point lead.

The Kumuls' were denied a try back minutes later when Cronulla's Tu Maori was pulled back after receiving a forward pass. Wales once again took advantage of this and from the resulting scrum and set, Rob Roberts dived over. Matt James followed him over the line after being set up by Mark Lennon. Harris added the extras on both occasions.

PNG got back into the game on 64 minutes. Tu Maori intercepted on his own 10 metre line. His 60-metre run was halted by Lee Briers, but from the next play, Nixon Kolo went over in the corner.

Wales restored the balance three minutes later as Dave Halley finished off a fine passing move involving Mark Lennon and Adam Hughes. Sean Penkywicz added another, which Lennon converted before going over himself straight from kick-off. Adam Hughes converted to bring up the half century.

Iestyn Harris was happy with the win but knows that there's a job to do next week.

"I was pleased with the game today," the former Cardiff RFC man said. "But we've got a lot of work to do before next week's game - it's going to be tough to overcome a seven-point deficit. I was disappointed to be injured for last year's Scotland match but this year I've had three or four week's rest so I'm raring to go. It was good to pull on the Welsh jersey once again, it's been a long time."

WALES
1. Mark Lennon - Celtic Crusaders
2. Anthony Blackwood - Celtic Crusaders
3. Luke Dyer - Celtic Crusaders
4. Adam Hughes - Oldham
5. Dave Halley - Bradford Bulls
6. Iestyn Harris - Bradford Bulls
7. Lee Briers - Warrington Wolves
8. Phil Cushion - Celtic Crusaders
9. Ian Webster - Celtic Crusaders
10. Gareth Dean - Celtic Crusaders
11. Matt James - Bradford Bulls
12. Robert Roberts - Oldham
13. Phil Joseph - Halifax
14. Steve Thomas - Celtic Crusaders
15. Damien Gibson - Halifax RLFC
16. Sean Penkywicz - Halifax RLFC
17. Jordan James - Celtic Crusaders
18. Aaron Summers - Celtic Crusaders
19. Craig Kopczak - Bradford Bulls
20. Byron Smith - Rochdale Hornets

Tries: Joseph (15), Halley (18, 68), Gibson (30, 48), Roberts (54), M.James (57), Penkywicz (75), Lennon (78)
Goals: Harris 5/7, Lennon 1/1, Hughes 1/1

PAPUA NEW GUINEA
1. John Wilshere - Salford City Reds
2. Tu Maori - Cronulla Sharks
3. Gimapau Keimelo - Wri Vele Raiders
4. Steve Franciscus - Canberra Raiders
5. Michael Mark - Port Moresby Bulldogs
6. Jessie Joe - Port Moresby Bulldogs
7. Keith Peters - Penrith Panthers
8. Nigel Hukula - Goroka Lahanis
9. Paul Aiton - Penrith Panthers
10. Trevor Exton - Ipswich Jets, Australia
11. George Moni - Mendi Muruks
12. Joseph Omae - Mendi Muruks
13. Rod Griffin - Wests Tigers
14. Rodney Pora - Kokopo Island Gurias
15. James Nightingale - Penrith Panthers
16. Nixon Kolo - Wri Vele Raiders
17. Charlie Wabo - Mendi Muruks
(8 - Sub) Kevin Prior - Redcliffe Dolphins
(1 - Sub) Menzie Yere - Kokopo Island Gurias

Tries: Moni (11), Kolo (65)
Goals: Wilshere 1/2

Referee: Thierry Alibert (France)
Half-time: 16-6
Men of the Match: Wales - Iestyn Harris, PNG - Tu Maori

article by Ian Golden
28 October 2007