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5 days ago
England were comfortable in a 36-6 victory over a fumbling Papua New Guinea in front of 10,563 fans at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
It wasn't pretty, but it was effective as the Three Lions raced out to a 14-nil half-time lead then ran in four more in the second half to complete the 36-6 scoreline, also the semi-final fixtures for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
For England, it was the right edge pairing of Jermaine McGillvary and Kallum Watkins that dealt the damage to the Kumuls. McGillvary scored a brace in the first half laid on by Watkins before the Huddersfield winger returned the favour in the second half as the English ran away with the contest.
Overall it was a contest that never reached huge heights, as the two teams combined for 34 errors between them; PNG couldn't reproduce the vibrant football they were capable in the group stages, leading to three straight victories. Tonight though, they stumbled against an English side that has only conceded three tries across the tournament.
Wayne Bennett will have some areas to work on though, outside of their three first-half tries, England got in their own way despite the forward pack headlined by Sam Burgess and Alex Walmsley laid the perfect platform for the halves to work.
In the second half though, England shored up their handling and predictably, put on some nice moves to blow out the scoreline against a tiring Kumuls outfit. Gareth Widdop showed some sublime vision, after a break, he chipped a kick for the freshly on, Ben Currie to stroll across.
The Kumuls, although it was a forgettable 80 minutes for them, had some joy just before the hour mark. James Segeyaro created the space for Willie Minoga to steam through, the forward produced a lovely flick pass for the enigmatic Garry Lo to score.
From there, England turned on the afterburners to confirm their semi-final spot. Watkins finished off two efforts started by his winger partner, McGillvary. The Huddersfield winger burst down the middle before he shoveled it to Watkins then in the 71st, McGillvary produced a Gidley flick to gift Watkins the brace.
Ryan Hall put the icing on the English cake, with his 34th try in 38 appearances for England, with a strong effort after Gareth Widdop created the space from the scrum. It wasn't an oil painting but it was enough, England now take on Tonga in New Zealand for a spot in the Rugby League World Cup final.
England 36 - Papua New Guinea 6
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: England 14 Papua New Guinea 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jermaine McGillvary
2 points - Kallum Watkins
1 points - Alex Walmsley
Tries: Jermaine McGillvary (2), Alex Walmsley, Ben Currie, Kallum Watkins (2), Ryan Hall
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (4/7)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA (6)
Tries: Garry Lo
Conversions: Rhyse Martin (1/1)