PNG 32-16 Cook Islands: All to play for after Kumuls claim first World Cup win

Papua New Guinea PNG Kumuls celebrate against Cook Islands SWpix
Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix

Papua New Guinea claimed their first World Cup win with a 32-16 score over Cook Islands at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

It leaves all to play for in the third and final group stage, with both sides battling it out for a place in the quarter-finals having both won one game so far.

Tonga currently top Group D with two wins from two, having defeated Wales on Monday night.

Winger Rodrick Tai scored a double for Papua New Guinea, while he was joined on the scoresheet by team-mates Kyle Laybutt, Lachlan Lam, Rhyse Martin and Justin Olam.

Meanwhile, Rhyse Martin’s goal-kicking streak came to an end. The Leeds back-rower needed just one more to break the record with 42 consecutive goals. However, the PNG international missed with his first attempt, but can celebrate the title as a joint-record holder.

Match report

Cook Islands opened the scoring through the boot of Steven Marsters, converting a penalty goal 10 minutes into the clash for a 2-0 lead.

Papua New Guinea soon hit back with the first try of the clash. Tai racing away 80 metres to score in the corner for his first, leaving it tight for Martin who instead will celebrate a joint-record after missing the kick.

Half-back Laybutt extended that lead on 24 minutes, going himself to score in the corner for a 10-2 score. Martin kicking this one.

Mackenzie Yei was sent to the sin-bin with 12 minutes until the break for a high shot. And the Kukis used the man advantage, scoring just before the break through Paul Ulberg to reduce the deficit to 10-8 at half-time.

HT: PNG 10-8 Cook Islands

The Kumuls came out firing in the second half, scoring with their first set. The side went the length of the field on the restart for Martin to crash over and convert his own try.

It was a strong start for Papua New Guinea, with Tai crossing for his second on 48 minutes to extend the lead even further to 20-8.

Lam continued the scoring on 58 minutes, making it back-to-back-to-back tries for Papua New Guinea in the second half.

Anthony Gelling finally hit back for Cook Islands half-way through the second 40, with the video referee confirming the try with controversial grounding. Reubenn Rennie then became the second player to be sent to the sin-bin with 13 minutes left for a high tackle.

And just like the Kukis did, PNG used the extra man advantage for Justin Olam to score his first of the tournament. Cook Islands finished the scoring through Kayal Iro, leaving a full-time score of 32-16.

Cook Islands face Tonga on Sunday in Middlesbrough, while PNG face Wales next Monday in Doncaster.

FT: PNG 32-16 Cook Islands

PNG: Johnston, Tai, Macdonald, Olam, Ngutlik, Laybutt, Lam, Albert, Ipapa, Namo, Putt, Martin, Alick. Bench: Boas, Russell, Yei.

Tries: Tai (2), Laybutt, Martin, Lam, Olam.

Goals: Martin 4/6

Sin-bin: Yei

Cook Islands: Iro, S.Marsters, Gelling, R.Rennie, Ulberg, Takairangi, E.Marsters, V.Rennie, Teroi, Moeroa, Peyroux, Piakura, Tetevano. Bench: Makatoa, Moale, Ngatikaur, Noovao-McGreal.

Tries: Ulberg, Gelling

Goals: S.Marsters 2/4

Sin-bin: R.Rennie

Attendance: 6,273

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About Josh McAllister 2126 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.

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