By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 8/11/13
New Zealand are on their way to the quarter-finals and Papua New Guinea are playing for pride in their final match of Group B.
The Kiwis are in ominous form and will be keen to get through this one unscathed and with no injuries. They are yet to get out of first gear but have easily disposed of both Samoa and France so far. When they do hit their straps, it will be gnarly sight.
With an awesome arsenal of talent at their disposal, the defending champions of Foran, Kasiano, Pritchard, Johnson and Luke will be scary when they finally fully click. The Kumuls will be praying dearly that it is not against them.
Papua New Guinea has been one of the biggest disappointments in this World Cup. After a great performance in 2008, in this edition the Kumuls have lost a close one against France but were then simply woeful against the Samoans.
In one of the worst first half displays by any team at this tournament, PNG went out with a smashing at the hands of the Samoans.
With coach Adrian Lam and advisor Mal Meninga under tremendous pressure back at home, the Kumuls must improve in this clash at Leeds, if at least to save some face.
New Zealand has long history of its many of players starring for the Yorkshire club, and the Kiwis will have a fair few fans at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. With the global star that is Sonny Bill Williams in their side, the crowd will be in full voice to cheer on the dual-code international. Kieran Foran will captain his country for the first time in surely what will be a proud moment for him.
Leeds Rhinos one of the top two powerhouses of Super League and Headingley one of the best grounds in the competition. The capacity of 21,062 should be near full for the first World Cup match that the city is hosting.
Leeds is also staging a quarter-final but the Yorkshire locals will be glad to finally get their chance to see some World Cup action live. With the nearby area to the stadium packed with pubs and bars, the Leeds will be buzzing on Friday night.
Local newspaper The Yorkshire Post have been covering the tournament well, advertising and spruiking the twists and turns, and many Rhinos supporters will be out to check out their new signing for next season, PNG hooker Paul Aiton.
I’m tipping the Kiwis to beat the Kumuls by at least 30 points. If Papua New Guinea does not cut out the basic errors that have infected their game, and fail to ensure their first-up contact in defence is strong, then this could be a cricket score. Stephen Kearney will surely rest some of his players; to ensure they are fit and firing for the latter stages, but such is the Kiwi’s depth that whoever they put out will be too good for the Kumuls.
Neville Costigan’s men will need to play the match of their lives to even get within six points of the Kiwis who are cruising towards another final.
Bosam Nene MacDonald
Jessie Joe Nandye
1 Josh Hoffman
2 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
3 Dean Whare
4 Bryson Goodwin
5 Manu Vatuvei
6 Kieran Foran
7 Shaun Johnson
8 Ben Matulino
9 Issac Luke
10 Jesse Bromwich
11 Alex Glenn
12 Sonny Bill Williams
13 Elijah Taylor
14 Sam Moa
15 Sam Kasiano
16 Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
17 Greg Eastwood
18 Jason Nightingale
19 Thomas Leuluai