Jamaica has made Rugby League World Cup history by scoring their first-ever try in the sport’s international showpiece.
In his 300th career game, fullback Ben Jones-Bishop scored that try in the 75th minute of the Reggae Warriors’ 68-6 loss to New Zealand in their Group C match in Hull Saturday.
“It’s surreal really. You know, 300 games and the World Cup,” Jones-Bishop said after the match. “It meant a lot. It’s a great feeling and I’m just happy that for the hard work we put in, we got a reward out of it.”
The result puts New Zealand into the quarterfinals and win, lose or draw against Lebanon next week, it will be Jamaica’s swansong in this tournament.
The Kiwis piled on the pressure throughout the 80 minutes of the second game for both teams and their efforts resulted in a total of 13 tries. They scored seven four-pointers in the first half and another six in the second stanza.
Despite getting a cramp in his leg in the second forty, New Zealand winger, and part-time goalkicker, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak crossed for four of their tries and was named Man-of-the Match.
“World Cups don’t come around very often, so to be able to be in another one and to be in the quarterfinals is special,” he said.
New Zealand’s other try-scorers included Jeremy Marshall-King (2), Brandon Smith (2), Peta Hiku, Morata Niukore, Sebastian Kris, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Briton Nikora. Kieran Foran booted five conversions, with Watene-Zelezniak adding two more.
Even though they came out on the wrong side of the ledger, the Reggae Warriors are thought to have made some kind of unofficial history with the number of short kickoffs they put in, and the high percentage of those restarts that they recovered.
Unlike their opening game against Ireland, the Jamaicans tried things throughout the contest including kick-throughs early in the tackle count to try to catch the Kiwis napping and spreading the ball wide from one side of the field to the other on the attack.
Their winger Andrew Simpson had a solid game in defence, making three try-saving tackles.
Jamaica’s head coach Romeo Monteith says he was pleased with how his team played.
“The boys fought every minute of the game,” Monteith said afterwards. “Overall, I was happy with the energy and the effort put in by the boys.
“From day one when we started this project, it has always been about doing something special and just being in this World Cup is very special to us. We’ve been trying for years to get here.
“It was a lovely outcome for Ben to get that try. I’m very happy for him and happy he’s played for Jamaica.”
Likewise, New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire was satisfied for the most part with how his side approached the match.
“From our last game to this one I thought our cohesion was better, but we also know we can do better again,” he said.
“It was great to see Dallin go down the sideline quite a number of times as the players practised those plays a few times during the week. But real credit to the Jamaicans. To see those guys go out there and perform the way they did and play with passion, good on them.”
Jamaica’s final game in this tournament will be Sunday, October 30, in Leigh when they play the Lebanon Cedars.
New Zealand 68
Tries: D. Watene-Zelezniak (4), P. Hiku (10), D. Watene-Zelezniak (14), D. Watene-Zelezniak (19), M. Niukore (29), S. Kris (37), J. Marshall-King (40), C. Nicoll-Klokstad (44), B. Nikora (53), J. Marshall-King (56), D. Watene-Zelezniak (59), B. Smith (66), B. Smith (72)
Goals: K. Foran (16), K. Foran (31), K. Foran (40), D. Watene-Zelezniak (45), D. Watene-Zelezniak (54), K. Foran (61), K. Foran (67), K. Foran (73)
Tries: B. Jones-Bishop (76)
Goals: K. Rush (78)