There is no question that the people of PNG love Rugby League, they claim it as their national sport. So when their National side was to face the PM’s XIII today, a seating capacity of 5,000 was always going to be a problem.
The unlucky fans who didn’t have a ticket simply rioted at the gate, trying to force their way into the ground and get a glimpse of the Aussie stars and the hotly anticipated match. Local Police having to use tear gas and live warning rounds to force the crowd back.
Australia eventually won the match 42-18, but had to work hard for their points. A half time score of 18-12 to the Australians gives a better indication of things.
Panthers star Michael Jennings bagged a triple to rip the heart out of PNG as the crowd at Lloyd Robson Oval went nuts as their home town stars showed some flashes of brilliance.
Australia was misfiring at times when they tried to work their set plays and the physical nature of PNG was always keeping them honest. PNG had some heavy hitters and it saw several Australians have a peek as they hit the ball up.
In the end, PNG killed themselves – giving away simple errors that allowed the Australians to run away late with the game.
Australia were in front 18-12 at halftime. They had to work for every inch early on, but fitness probably played a part too.
PMXIII skipper Johnathan Thurston, was a big crowd favourite, was flawless with the boot. Converting 7 from 7 from the kicking tee.
PNG’s mobile forward Sigfred Gande was impressive, barging over for a try 10 minutes before half time.
Shortly after, substitute Tommy Butterfield pinned his ears back from dummy half for an opportunists try, the crafty reserve hooker really catching the Aussies out with this touchdown.
PNG have a very big future in Rugby League, they have some raw talent and a great following from the people. With continued funding, support and a path laid out by the NRL – they could be a chance to have involvement at some stage.
But after the break, the PNG’s couldn’t go with the Australians. A combination of fitness and simple errors gave the PM team possession and field position and they eventually ran away with things to blow the scoreline out.