PREVIEW: England v Papua New Guinea

The return of Sam Burgess will be a boost for England but Papua New Guinea will be desperate to prove to people that they can win away from home on Sunday.

England eased past France 36-6 last weekend and have been solid in the tournament so far, having comfortably beaten Lebanon while just falling short to Australia in the opening game of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea won all three of their group games against Wales, Ireland and most recently a 64-0 triumph over the USA.

However, all of their group games were in Port Moresby, and they will play their first game away from home on Sunday as they face the Three Lions at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

It will be interesting to see if they can play as well away from home as they can playing in front of their 14,800 home crowd at the National Football Stadium in Papua New Guinea.

England head coach Wayne Bennett has kept the spine of his team, with Kevin Brown keeping his place in the halves alongside Luke Gale while Gareth Widdop is set to start at full-back.

South Sydney Rabbitohs star Sam Burgess will return after a couple of weeks on the treatment table and will be a welcome return for England.

Kumuls boss Michael Marum has brought Ase Boas back into the side in place of Lachlan Lam, who scored two tries on his international debut last week.

A lot of people expected England to reach the final of the tournament this year and possibly win it because they have such a strong squad this time around.

It is going to be a massive challenge for both teams because Papua New Guinea are a very strong side while England have a lot of talent all over the show.


There will be a number of key battles all over the park but the one that stands out the most is between England’s Jermaine McGillvary and Papua New Guinea’s Garry Lo. McGillvary has been one of the best players in the tournament so far and tends to rack up more metres than anyone else on the field.

Lo has been sensational for Sheffield Eagles in the last two seasons, scoring 50 tries in 46 appearances but he has been great on the international stage, too. He carries with the ball with a lot of power and not many players can tackle him one-on-one.


One of England’s shining stars so far in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup has been James Roby. We all know how talented the St Helens hooker is but he is really thriving on the international stage and causes teams all sorts of problems with his quick runs out of dummy-half.

As aforementioned, Ase Boas comes back into the Kumuls side after being rested last week and what a player he is. The 28-year-old is the starman for the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup. He likes to take on the line and is always creating new opportunities. He also has a good partnership with his brother, Watson Boas, in the halves a swell.


ENGLAND: 1. Gareth Widdop, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. John Bateman, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. James Graham, 11. Sam Burgess, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Sean O’Loughlin (C). Subs: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Tom Burgess, 16. Ben Currie, 17. James Roby. Reserves: 18. Chris Heighington, 19. Mark Percival, 20. Stefan Ratchford, 21. George Williams.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: 1. David Mead (C), 2. Justin Olam, 3. Kato Ottio, 4. Nene MacDonald, 5. Garry Lo, 6. Ase Boas, 7. Watson Boas, 8. Moses Meninga, 9. James Segeyaro, 10. Luke Page, 11. Rhyse Martin, 12. Willie Minoga, 13. Paul Aiton. Subs: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Stargroth Amean, 16. Stanton Albert, 17. Rod Griffin. Reserves: 18. Enoch Maki, 19. Wartovo Puara, 20. Thompson Teteh, 21. Lachlan Lam.


Referee – James Child, Touch Judges – Mark Craven & Chris Butler, Video Referee – Steve Chiddy.


In the quarter-finals between Tonga and Lebanon, and New Zealand and Fiji, we have seen just how close the games have been and we expect another close encounter on Sunday. England are the favourites to win though and predicts England by 16 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on BBC Two and Premier Sports at 5am on Sunday 19 November.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.

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