Papua New Guinea will want to continue their good form and book their place in the quarter-finals with a big win over the USA in Port Moresby.
The Kumuls have been talked about quite a lot in the tournament so far, with their efforts and actions on and off the field. Last week, they beat a tough Ireland side 14-6 and they won 50-6 against Wales in the opening round.
And both of the games in Port Moresby were a sell-out and it was brilliant to see a 14,800-capacity full of flavour and atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the USA haven’t had the tournament that they would have hoped for, with the Hawks losing 46-0 against Italy last time out and were thrashed 58-12 by Fiji in Round 1.
Brian McDermott’s side were always outsiders to pick up a win in the World Cup but they haven’t done as well as they would have aimed for, having conceded 104 points in two games and have managed to score 12 points.
But fair play to McDermott and his coaching, who purposely selected USA-based players in his squad rather than going for NRL or Super League players in a bid to grow the game in the United States.
The Hawks have already been knocked out of the tournament but that will not stop them trying to cause a shock in Port Moresby while the Kumuls will do everything in their power to put on a show for their supporters.
There will be a number of clashes all over the field but the one that shines from the rest is between USA star Joe Eichner and Papua New Guinea back-rower Rhyse Martin. Eichner has impressed this year as he helped Toronto Wolfpack gain promotion to the Championship.
Martin has been one of Papua New Guinea’s most reliable players in the World Cup so far and is a fine back-rower. He is on the books at Canterbury Bulldogs and you can why he plays in the NRL because he is a work-horse, and he can kick goals too, which is a bonus.
ONES TO WATCH
The one to watch which is most appealing for the Hawks is Corey Makelim. The full-back had a fantastic game last week against Italy and was named in loverugbyleague.com’s Team of the Week for Round 2. He has great fit and is always willing to try new things in attack.
Papua New Guinea’s one to watch is a familiar name to Super League and in particular, Leeds Rhinos. James Segeyaro has been the interchange hooker to Kurt Baptiste in previous weeks but he has a starting spot on Sunday and a lot is expected from him. He likes to run with the ball from dummy-half and is a constant menace for the opposition.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: 1. David Mead (C), 2. Justin Olam, 3. Kato Ottio, 4. Nene MacDonald, 5. Garry Lo, 6. Lachlan Lam, 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. Nixon Putt, 17. Thompson Teteh. Reserves: 18. Rod Griffin, 19. Wartovo Puara, 20. Enoch Maki, 21. Ase Boas.
UNITED STATES: 1. Corey Makelim, 2. Ryan Burroughs, 3. Junior Vaivai, 4. Jonathan Alley, 5. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Kristian Freed, 7. Tui Samoa, 8. Eddy Pettybourne, 9. David Marando, 10. Mark Offerdahl (C), 11. Danny Howard, 12. Joe Eichner, 13. Nicholas Newlin. Subs: 14. Sam Tochterman-Talbott, 15. Fotukava Malu, 16. Martwain Johnston, 17. Gabriel Farley. Reserves: 18. Steve Howard, 19. Andrew Kneisly, 20. David Ulch, 21. Josh Rice.
Referee – Adam Gee, Touch Judges – Ziggy Przeklasa & Chris McMillan, Video Referee – Jared Maxwell.
Papua New Guinea are the favourites for this game and by quite some distance as well. On paper, they are stronger than the USA all over the park and are the host nation too, which is always a bonus. Loverugbyleague.com predicts the Kumuls by 52 points.
You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 5am on Sunday 12 November.
How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.