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At last, it’s almost here. I’ve got up, got a cup of coffee, turned on the TV, and I’m just waiting for the Air New Zealand Cup to get off the bloody screen.
England: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Martin Gleeson, Keith Senior, Lee Smith, Leon Pryce, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock (c), James Roby, James Graham, Gareth Hock, Gareth Ellis, Kevin Sinfield.
Subs: Danny McGuire, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Adrian Morley, Jon Wilkin.
Papua New Guinea: John Wilshere (c), George Kepa, Jesse Joe Parker, Tu’u Maori, David Moore, Stanley Gene, Keith Peters, Makali Aizue, Paul Aiton, Trevor Exton, Neville Costigan, James Nightingale, Rod Griffin.
Subs: Rodney Pora, George Moni, Jason Chan, Charlie Wabo
Ah, good. The Union’s finishing. Just some ad breaks to navigate now…
ENGLAND 32 – 22 PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Good to see the coverage is sponsored by the Gilette Superlab…
Wha.. Where’s Eddie and Stevo? Who is this random stranger? Oh, and we have Paul Cullen and Martin Offiah in the studio. Martin appears to have a funeral to go to afterwards.
Oh, there we go, Eddie and Stevo are in Oz. I’ve always thought that people would have far less ire for the gruesome twosome if they weren’t commentators and studio hosts. Stanley Gene’s at stand-off, which could be interesting.
This Davies fellow claims it’s a full house in Townsville. If that’t true then well done WC Organizers!
The teams come out for the National Anthems. Looks like a good crowd.
Euurggh. When I find the genius who let a kid sing the PNG anthem I’ll give them a piece of my mind.
0 mins: Sinfield kicks off.
1 min: England muscle up well. PNG kick followed with a tremendous chase and Gardner hits a PNG wall.
3 mins: England seem intent on throwing it wide, but PNG doing well shutting it down so far. Good diffusing of the bomb at the end of that set by Wilshere
5 mins: England try to go around the outside, but Moore bundles Gardner into touch by the try line. Should’ve moved in there.
6 mins: First penalty to PNG, Hock interferring with Stanley Gene. Can the Kumuls use the advantage?
7 mins: PNG offloading like mad, and force a drop-out from a Gene kick.
8 mins: Roby puts in a massive hit and forces the knock-on after the drop-out. England are back on the attack.
10 mins: Costigan throws the ball out after the tackle is completed and England now have an attacking platform.
12 mins: TRY: Ade Gardner CONVERSION Kevin Sinfield
England come close down the middle, adn had there been a runner off Leon Pryce they would have scored already. As it is, England throw it out wide and Gardner slots in at the corner. Sinfield slots in a brilliant touchline conversion.
ENG 6 – 0 PNG
14 mins: Penalty to England for interference. All the momentum with Englans right now.
15 mins: Lee Smith comes so close to getting the second try, tearing down a gap on the side, but Wilshere just manages to hold him up in the in goal. England drop the ball on the next play and give away a penalty afterwards. Momentum swing?
17 mins: Another great Stanley Gene kick, another drop-out forced. This time it’s Gardner who gets the rough stuff in the in-goal.
19 Mins TRY Rod Griffin CONVERSION John Wilshere
PNG follow up the drop-out with a penalty, and England fall for the dummy run as Rod Griffin crashes over close to the posts. The kick is no match for John Wilshere.
ENG 6 – 6 PNG
21 Mins: The momentum with PNG now, as they make a break down the middle. They are caught, and Gene kicks it dead.
22 Mins: England run it wide, and Lee Smith gets bundled into touch.
23 Mins: Jessie Joe makes a massive break down the middle. England scramble back, and cause a much needed knock-on. This in turn is followed by an England Penalty for Gene being offside.
25 mins: Grrr. Pryce goes close, then on the next play the ball Morley takes three defenders in trying to stop him, and he offloads to Roby who drops the ball with the line in sight, under pressure from Jessie Joe.
26 mins: Papua New Guinea are putting on a handling masterclass. Offloads and trick-throws galore. Gene ruins it a bit by kicking straight to touch.
27 mins: TRY Lee Smith CONVERSION Sinfield
Good running by Morley down the middle frees up space on the wings. Excellent handling by Burrow and Senior allows Lee Smith to just fall over and score. Sinfield again adds a touchline conversion.
ENG 12 – 6 PNG
30 Mins: England blow another chance, the pass from Burrow bouncing off a PNG head. The ref rules it a knock-on, which seems odd.
33 Mins: Another Gene short kick gets a ricochet, and Wellens knocks on trying to get it. Back to zero for PNG.
34 Mins: Almost a repeat there, but this time Gene knocks-on from the ricochet. However, England throw a forward pass almost straight away and they get a scrum 10m out.
36 Mins: TRY Jason Chan CONVERSION Wilshere
After coming so close in the left corner, Stanley Gene throws a beautiful pass. Senior comes out for the interception and Chan runs into the hole he leaves. Wilshere adds the conversion.
ENG 12 – 12 PNG
39 mins: TRY George Kepa
A high bomb is messed up by Lee Smith and George Kepa picks up the spillage to go over the line. The video ref fails to find anything wrong with it, and it is awarded. Wilshere narrowly misses the conversion.
HALF TIME: England 12 – 16 Papua New Guinea
Not good for England, but Papua New Guinea are looking threatening whenever they have the ball. England really need to start holding onto the ball more. The Kumuls are definitely proving their point though, some tough running and an almost compusive need to throw the ball around.
The teams are out for the second half
41 mins: England start running well and get a penalty for their efforts.
42 mins: Ooooh, Roby thows an iffy pass, but PNG knock on. Now attacking in good position.
43 mins: Gah. Sinfield puts up a bomb, but Gardner misses it.
44 mins: news that Jessie Joe has fractured an eye-socket. Grim.
45 mins: Good break by Pryce down the middle, and a chip from Sinfield results in a drop out.
46 mins: England drop the ball, and then give away a penalty. Now they have to tough it out again.
47 mins: England get a massive let off when a Jason Nightingale try is brought back for a forward pass. It’s a borderline decision, to say the least. They were also lukcky it it was Makali Aizue who made the previous break.
50 mins: TRY Lee Smith
England thorw the ball around a bit too much by the line, but eventually they manage to create space out wide and Wilkin puts Lee Smith in for his second try.
ENG 16 – 16 PNG
53 Mins: Excellent defensive set by England restricts PNG to 3 gained metres in the set.
55 Mins: England again throw it around close to the line, only to see the ball knocked on by Roby trying to dive over.
58 mins: TRY Martin Gleeson CONVERSION Sinfield
England again keep hammering at the line. PNG hold firm until Rob Burrow puts Martin Gleeson through a hole. This is all on the back of England seriously upping the defensive intensity. Sinfield adds an easy conversion.
ENG 22 – 16 PNG
60 Mins: Danny McGuire is now on, and so nearly gets a 40-20, only for David Moore to put off a magical play to keep it in-bounds.
62 mins: England have really upped the speed of their ruck, and are getting interference penalties all over the place.
63 Mins: Good footwork from McGuire creates space and it looks like his offload has put Lee Smith in, only for it to be called back from a forward pass.
65 Mins: Great hit from Sinfield dislodges the ball from Gene’s grasp, and England have a scrum in midfield.
67 Mins: PNG get momentum again. Off-loading and quick passing takes them back into the England half. Gene puts up a hick kick which Wellens bombs, but because he was taken out in mid-air so England get a penalty.
70 Mins: TRY Gardner CONVERSION Sinfield
England take the ball in the PNG half, and at last Leon Pryce runs at the line. His off-load puts in Gardner, but it looked more forward than Mcuire’s disallowed pass a few minutes ago. Sinfield again lands a pearl of a touchline conversion.
ENG 28 – 16 PNG
71 Mins: PNG try a short kick-off and it nearly opens up a try straight away, but the ref agains calls them back for a knock-on.
73 Mins: TRY Smith
England again manage to create an opening down the flank, and Smith appears to get his hat-trick. However, Wilshere puts in a great effort to stop him and we have to go to the video ref. Alas, Wilshere didn’t quite do enough and so the try is awarded. Sinfield misses the kick.
75 Mins: TRY Paul Aiton CONVERSION Wilshere
PNG put in another short kick off, and this time it succeeds. The Kumuls batter the line, and Willie Peters puts in a grubber for Paul Aiton to run on to. However, there was a noticeable lack of a full-back covering. Wilshere converts, and suddenly PNG believe again.
78 mins: Peters puts up another bomb, but this time Smith deals with it and it almost opens up for him. England are now playing it safe down the middle.
80 Mins: The final hooter goes, and England boot it dead. Game over.
FINAL SCORE: ENGLAND 32 – 22 PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Phew! I’m drained from that! England definitely stepped up a few gears in the 2nd half, but they had to because the Kumuls were pretty intense. It seems that the turning point was the disallowed PNG try to me, but England will at least be thankful to have got that pounding out of the way. I’ll have a proper analysis of the game later, but right now I need another coffee…