Kumuls draw series with England Knights

The Papua New Guinea Kumuls defeated the England Knights 32-22 in the second game of the series between the two sides in what was in an entertaining match played at Port Moresby’s National Football Stadium.

The victory saw the home side level on the series, with the Kumuls came from behind to cause an upset after the Knights took out the first game 16-12 in Lae.

The Knights had the first opportunity to attack in yesterday’s game in POM after Kumuls forward Nixon Putt knocked the ball on while attempting to play the ball. However, the Knights did not capitalise on it as the Kumuls defence held and they regained possession of the ball.

Kumuls halfback Watson Boas then made a break as the momentum shifted to the home side; but they too could not convert their chance after they lost the ball.

There was plenty of toing-and-froing to start the game; but with 10 minutes gone; it was the visitors who scored the first try through winger Tom Lineham after wonderful footwork from lock Jack Hughes. Hughes beat his defender to open up the gap to find his winger unmarked to score in the corner. Five-eighth Dac Patton converted the try.

England forwards, led by captain Hughes, made easy metres whilst the Kumuls were struggling to compete their sets. They were also guilty of losing the ball too often and the momentum was with the English side who capitalised after a David Mead knock on in their own territory.

The Knights scored another try in the 15th minute mark through winger Tom Davis, after a cut-out pass from Patton who again converted the try to extend his team’s lead to 12-0; silencing the stadium.

England then gave PNG a penalty inside their red zone when PNG were on full attack, and this helped to spark a comeback.

Featherstone Rovers new recruit and halfback Watson Boas who gave a short ball to a Putt for him to score in between the uprights. Boas converted the try as Knights led 12-6 with less than 10 minutes before halftime.

However, the Knights responded shortly after with the backrow combination of Hughes and Matt Whitley causing havoc to the Kumuls defence.

Hughes made another break before passing to fullback Jack Walker to score the try near the uprights with Patton again successful with the conversion for an 18-6 lead.

PNG were again guilty of making handling errors, but Boas made a decisive play by kicking short and causing line drop out. The Kumuls were awarded penalty with seconds on the clock before halftime and they ran the ball and scored via Justin Olam in the corner after a short ball by Boas.

Boas converted the try and at halftime, the score was 18-12 to the visitors.

The Kumuls started the second half with lots of energy as they forced an error and started attacking on the first set. Utility – and another player off to the Rovers – Ase Boas dummied and crashed over with his brother Watson making no mistake to convert the try.

The scores were locked at 18-18, and momentum had shifted towards the home side.

They used their opportunity by forcing errors in the Knights and skipper Mead grabbed a loose ball and muscled his way over to score to put the Kumuls led for the first time. Boas again converted the try with 52 minutes of the game gone and PNG were in front 24-18.

PNG forwards, led by Widnes Vikings prop Wellington Albert and Enoch Maki, set the platform for the backs to fire with some bulldozing runs, but Albert was getting into the skin of his opposite forwards.

PNG scored again through centre Nene Macdonald who pounced on a grubber from five-eighth Kyle Laybutt in the 58th minute mark as the stadium erupted with PNG extending their lead further.

There was plenty of feeling in the match as England five-eighth Patton and PNG halfback Boas were sin binned for a scuffle.

The English forwards lifted in this period and were able to run through some tiring defenders and this saw the Knights score in the corner through Lineham. Stand in kicker Jack Walker could not convert and the scores were 30-22 to PNG with less than 10 minutes to go.

England tried to switch things up and attacked the PNG edges with their big forwards; but the Kumuls held on and also made the final scoring play of the game with Watson Boas took a penalty right in front of the uprights right on the fulltime for a 32-22 win.

PNG Kumuls 32 (Nixon Putt, Justin Olam, Ase Boas, David Mead, Nene Macdonald tries; Watson Boas 6 goals) def England Knights 22 (Tom Lineham 2 , Tom Davies, Jack Walker tries; Dec Patton 3 goals) at National Football Stadium

(Main Photo via PNG Kumuls Facebook Page)
*Melvin Levington Levongo is a QRL correspondent based in PNG