Papua New Guinea Kumuls v Great Britain Lions preview

It's been a tough tour for the winless Great Britain and they will be determined to at least salvage some pride in the final Test of the season against Papua New Guinea.

Having scored just 22 points in three games, Lions mentor Wayne Bennett conceded the majority of his squad had regressed since he coached England to a series win over New Zealand last year.

Papua New Guinea, meanwhile, were valiant in a thrilling 22-20 loss to Fiji last Saturday in Christchurch in their first match after a mid-year defeat against Samoa.

The Kumuls have the opportunity to play in front of their adoring fans in Port Moresby where they've hosted Great Britain three times, most recently in 1992.

Match: Papua New Guinea v Great Britain

Round 5 -

Papua New Guinea

Home Team

Papua New Guinea

Scored 0 points
Great Britain

Away Team

Great Britain

Scored 0 points

Venue: Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • KAYO
  • GEM

The Rundown

Team News

Papua New Guinea: Alex Johnston, Rhyse Martin, Justin Olam, Luke Page, Kyle Laybutt and Wellington Albert are again set to lead the way as the only Kumuls players with NRL and/or Super League games to their names.

Great Britain: Star second-rower John Bateman is waiting to learn his fate after being placed on report for a dangerous tackle in the 23-8 loss to the Kiwis. Leeds flyer Ash Handley has joined the squad and could debut on the wing in place of Blake Austin, who filled in for the injured Zak Hardaker last week. Hardaker may also push to play with his shoulder complaint not thought to be serious.

Key match-up

Elliot Whitehead v Rhyse Martin. After an awesome NRL season, Great Britain back-rower Whitehead has been solid for Great Britain, maintaining a high defensive workload. But he'll need to lift if second-row partner John Bateman is suspended. On the other hand, PNG captain Martin's NRL and Super League experience will be integral against a much more seasoned pack. Martin ran for 85 metres and made 29 tackles last weekend but also missed six tackles. Winger Edene Gebbie was outstanding versus the Bati and has another chance to show his ability before joining South Sydney for 2020.

For Papua New Guinea to win

An energetic start is paramount for the Kumuls. It's a mismatch on paper but with Great Britain down on form and confidence, you never know what could happen if PNG jag an early try or two. Given the Lions are averaging a mere 7.3 points on their southern hemisphere tour, the home team might fancy themselves to play razzle-dazzle footy and win an attacking shootout.

For Great Britain to win

Trusting their ability should take the Lions a long way. They've got superior class and experience across the board and have nothing to lose. Perhaps the expected flair of PNG will entice Great Britain to break the shackles in return - and we could see an avalanche of points if Bennett's troops click.

Stat attack

No member of Great Britain's starting pack made 100 running metres against New Zealand last start. Bench prop Alex Walmsley (120m) was the only big man to achieve the feat. The Kumuls didn't fare much better, however, with front-rower Luke Page (99m) recording the highest total of his team's forwards.

And another thing...

Papua New Guinea have upset the Lions once in eight meetings: a 20-18 triumph in 1990.