Wales coach John Kear described his “immense pride” after his team exited the World Cup with a 36-0 defeat to Papua New Guinea in Doncaster.
A valiant display by Kear’s band of part-timers saw them come up short for the third time in Group D, but their performance underscored the progress they have made in the tournament.
“I am immensely proud of the players because most people expected us to get a shellacking every single time and they certainly haven’t done that,” said Kear.
“I am a little frustrated with our performance for the first 40 minutes tonight but they just worked so hard to restrict the score, and in the second half they were really competitive.”
John Kear pays tribute to Papua New Guinea
Kear paid tribute to the strength of the Papua New Guinea forward line and their ability to adapt in dismal conditions, but said he does not feel the Kumuls will have enough to sink England in the last eight next Saturday.
“We thought the rain might suit us but it suited them,” added Kear. “They went direct and their big plus point is their aggression and physicality and how they carry the ball.
“They were good in the forwards but whether they’re good enough to challenge England, I don’t think so.”
Papua New Guinea coach turns attention to England
Papua New Guinea coach Stanley Tepend immediately switched his attention towards next Saturday’s quarter-final against hosts England after his side’s convincing win.
The Kumuls will be hoping to go one better than their experience at the 2017 World Cup when they fell 36-6 to England in the last eight in Melbourne.
“We wanted to concentrate on tonight’s game and we hardly spoke about what lay beyond but now we can close this part and look at the quarter-finals starting tomorrow,” said Tepend.
“We had targets that we wanted to achieve in the pool stages and we’ve done that. The performance really showed how tight we all are off the field.
“I think we’ve learned from what happened in 2017. The players are now a lot smarter and a lot younger. I think we relied on a few individuals but now it’s more of a team effort and we’ve got better players I guess as well.”