England eased past Papua New Guinea 36-6 in Melbourne on Saturday to reach the semi-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
England were 14-0 up at half-time thanks to a try from Alex Walmsley as well as a brace from Jermaine McGillvary.
Ben Currie stretched England’s lead in the second half before Garry Lo pulled one back for the Kumuls. Further efforts from Kallum Watkins (2) and Ryan Hall saw England seal a solid 36-6 victory.
Wayne Bennett made five changes to his England side that beat France last weekend. Ryan Hall, Kallum Watkins, Sam Burgess, Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson came in for Stefan Ratchford, Mark Percival, Mike McMeeken, Scott Taylor and George Williams.
Michael Marum made three changes to his Papua New Guinea outfit that defeated the USA last time out. Lachlan Lam, Nixon Putt and Thompson Teteh were replaced by Ase Boas, Stanton Albert and Willie Minoga.
England started the game in fine form and got on top of Papua New Guinea from the start, with hooker Josh Hodgson kicking a 40/20 in the opening minutes.
The Three Lions opened the scoring in the 12th minute as they shipped it down the line to in-form winger Jermaine McGillvary who scored his 10th try in as many games. Gareth Widdop couldn’t convert from out wide but England were 4-0 up.
McGillvary grabbed his second and England’s second following a superb flick pass from centre Kallum Watkins. The conversion was off target but England were 8-0 to the good after 18 minutes.
The Kumuls challenged the Three Lions a couple of times but overall, England were in control in the first half. They extended their lead when Alex Walmsley bulldozed over the line for his first international try. Widdop converted to put his side in a 14-0 advantage.
Papua New Guinea thought they had scored through Kato Ottio last on in the half but the video referee ruled it out for a push on Gareth Widdop off the ball. England went into the changing rooms 14-0 to the good.
HALF TIME: England 14–0 Papua New Guinea.
England went over shortly after the restart through James Graham but referee James Child chalked it off due to a forward pass from Sam Burgess.
Bennett’s men did score in the 55th minute though. John Bateman made a fine break before Ben Currie got on the end of a well-weighted Widdop grubber kick to score. Widdop’s boot took the score to 20-0 in favour of England.
The Kumuls hit back though and got on the scoreboard a couple of minutes later. The ball went through quick hands to Garry Lo who dived over our wide. Rhyse Martin added the conversion but they were still 20-6 behind.
The Three Lions got their fifth try in the 67th minute. McGillvary made another superb break and assisted the supporting Watkins. Widdop converted, England 26-6 Papua New Guinea.
PNG continued to give it their all though and they thought they were in again through Willie Minoga but the video referee disallowed the try due to obstruction.
On the back of the ruled out PNG effort, England raced up the field and scored as Watkins finished acrobatically in the corner. Widdop’s conversion attempt went just wide of the mark but England were 30-6 to the good.
Ryan Hall sealed England’s place in the semi-finals as he went over at the death. Widdop’s conversion saw England run-out 36-6 winners in Melbourne.
FULL TIME: England 36–6 Papua New Guinea.
England – 36
Tries: McGillvary 2, Walmsley, Currie, Watkins 2, Hall
Goals: Widdop 4/7
Papua New Guinea – 6
Goals: Martin 1/1
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Kallum Watkins (England)
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).
Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Tom Burgess, 16. Ben Currie, 17. James Roby.
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.
Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Stargroth Amean, 16. Stanton Albert, 17. Rod Griffin.
Referee – James Child