Needing the win, Papua New Guinea had their key players step up when it mattered to record a 32-16 win over the Cook Islands in Warrington.

Although only two points separated the two sides at the break, it was Papua New Guinea who would run away with the game in the second half.

It would be the Cook Islands who opened the scoring on the back of a Steven Marsters penalty goal.

The first try of the game would go the way of the Kumuls, as Rodrick Tai left defenders in his wake with an 80m run to the line.

Former NRL half Kyle Laybutt scored the Kumuls second as he ducked and weaved his way around defenders to score the try.

The game’s momentum then changed when Kumuls forward Mackenzie Yei was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

The Cook Islands immediately capitalised with Esan Marsters finding Paul Ulberg out wide to score.

Keen to make amends, Yei bust open the Cook Islands defence off the first carry of the second half.

His barnstorming run set up the Kumuls to score and it was Rhyse Martin who ran a nice line, and put on a simple hit and spin to score.

The Kumuls extended their lead when Alex Johnston found a bit of space and could have gone himself but instead found Tai for his second try.

Star Kumuls centre Justin Olam then had his first major involvement as he split the line, managed to offload and found Lachlan Lam who sprinted away to score.

Johnston then nabbed his second try assist of the night when he was able to put Olam over for a try of his own.

A somewhat controversial consolation try for the Cook Islands side to Anthony Gelling gave them something to smile about but that would be all she wrote.

Kumuls coach Stanley Tepend was pleased with the win but knows that with a short turnaround, his side have to rest up in every facet.

“We are really delighted with that win,” Tepend said.

“We’ve got a short turn around so we’ll look at resting up as much as we can before our next game.”

Cook Islands coach Tony Iro could not fault his side’s tenacity or determination but admits that defensive lapses cost them.

“I think a couple of defensive lapses gave away a couple of simple tries that really turned the momentum of the game but they tried hard so I was really proud of that,” Iro said.

NRL News Player of the Game

3. Alex Johnston (PNG)

2. Rhyse Martin (PNG)

1. Kyle Laybutt (PNG)

Kumuls back-rower Rhyse Martin

By ricky

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