2017 Rugby League World Cup - England vs Papua New Guinea Match Preview

The Lowdown

ENGLAND

  • England were comfortable winners last time out against France to finish second in Group A and secure a quarter-final tie against Papua New Guinea.
  • England raced into an 18-0 lead after 10 minutes but couldn't maintain their impressive start. However, they have now scored a minimum of 29 points in five of their last seven World Cup games.
  • Wayne Bennett has rung the changes after rotating his side for the France game. Two big selections come in the form of Kevin Brown who obviously did enough to retain his place at stand-off whilst Sam Burgess returns to the side after picking up an injury in the opening game of the tournament.

Head Coach: Wayne Bennett

Team: Widdop; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Brown, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, S. Burgess, Whitehead, O'Loughlin

Bench: Walmsley, T. Burgess, Currie, Roby

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • Papua New Guinea's impressive World Cup continued as they racked up another huge score, this time dispatching the USA 64-0. That scoreline was the Kumuls' greatest ever Test victory.
  • PNG now head into the quarter-finals with a game against England in which they are 14-point underdogs. However, having scored 128 points in their three group games and conceding just 12, they will fancy their chances of an upset.
  • Head Coach Michael Marum makes three changes to his side with Ase Boas returning to take his place alongside his brother in the halves. Stanton Albert and Willie Minoga also return as Lachlan Lam, Nixon Putt and Thompson Teteh make way.

Head Coach: Michael Marum

Team: Mead; Olam, Ottio, MacDonald, Lo; A. Boas, W. Boas; Meninga, Segeyaro, Page, Martin, Minoga, Aiton

Bench: Baptiste, Amean, Albert, Griffin

Analysis - what to expect
If you had told Wayne Bennett before the tournament that his side could reach the World Cup Final without having to face Australia or New Zealand in the knockout stages, there would have been some proverbial hand-biting occurring. That scenario could well play out with the two southern hemisphere heavyweights on the other side of the draw after the final group placings were confirmed. The flip side is that they now face a Papua New Guinea side full of confidence after a superb group campaign. The Kumuls won all three games and demonstrated some brilliant point-scoring ability whilst England have been far from convincing so far. England should have enough quality amongst their ranks to win this but must be on their game or they could find themselves heading home.