RLWC Match Report: PNG v Ireland
Ireland put up a brave fight, forcing the game to the wire as their defence frustrated the Kumuls into 20 unforced errors, but were unable to find their own decisive blow.
As Oil Search National Football Stadium erupted in jubilant scenes following Boas’s 77th minute try, Wolfhounds players were visibly distraught as they fell to the ground after putting in a monumental effort.
From the kick off to get the match underway, it was clear that the Irish were prepared to match the Kumuls’ hard, straight running as they charged out of the line in the opening set.
Their fast paced start to the match paid off in just the fourth minute of the match as Irish hooker, Michael McIlorum, was the beneficiary of some luck of the Irish.
On the fifth tackle play broke down as the Irish started throwing the ball around desperately trying to create something.
The ball ended up on the flanks as they sent the ball up in the air before a cruel bounce gifted McIlorum an early four-pointer.
Following the opening try, the match fell into an arm wrestle as PNG started to work their way back into good field position after being stuck in their own half for most of the opening quarter.
But in the 16th minute, PNG would finally get the breakthrough they were searching for through none other than fan favourite Garry Lo.
Shifting the ball across the field, Kato Ottio tapped the ball on for Lo who looked up to see a wall of green in front of him. But despite the attention, Lo was able to beat seven Irish defenders on his way to the line as Port Moresby erupted with cheers.
With wind playing havoc with the ball, Martins kick hit the posts keeping the scores at 6-4 with plenty of time left in the first half.
Following the try, PNG started to find their devastating attacking flair, busting the Irish line on multiple occasions and putting Ireland under all sorts of pressure.
And after repeated raids on the Irish line, PNG finally broke through and hit the lead for the first time of the match.
Running across field, Ase Boas, threw a lofty ball over the head of an Irish defender which was plucked from the air by the 194cm Nene McDonald who put on a big right foot step and got on the inside of the cover defence for an important four-pointer.
With the wind blowing Martin’s conversion attempt across the face of the posts, Ireland was still right in contention, trailing by just two points despite having few attacking chances.
Errors once again stained the final minutes of the first half as the siren signalled time for a much needed breather for both sides.
As the referee sounded his whistle to get the second half back underway, both teams dug down and refused to move backwards but neither were able to move forwards, as errors once again prevented them from building any momentum.
Ireland spent most of the second half on the defensive, battening down the hatches as PNG threw everything they had at the resilient Wolfhounds.
Then with full time quickly approaching, Ireland had their best chance of the second as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, came agonisingly close to getting the match winner but was unable to ground the ball.
But before it could sink in, PNG quickly moved the ball up the field and looked to have finally found the elusive match winning try.
Following a brilliant run from hooker, Kurt Baptiste, PNG shifted the ball to the edge where Justin Olam managed to get across the line as the PNG faithful ecstatic cheers echoed around Port Moresby Stadium.
But the pass was ruled to have gone forward much to the relief of the Irish
The final five minutes saw PNG start to protect their two point lead as Ireland turned up the heat desperately trying to keep their World Cup dream alive.
But in the 77th minute, Ireland’s dreams were shattered as PNG five-eighth, Watson Boas, pounced on a loose ball and ran 20 meters untouched to put the nail in coffin and secure a World Cup knockout appearance, winning 14-6 in an entertaining match up.