England have reinforced their credentials as one of the teams to beat at this year's World Cup after storming into the semi-finals with a dominant 46-6 victory over Papua New Guinea on Sunday (AEDT).
In front of a healthy and rousing crowd at DW Stadium in Wigan, which included British royalty with Her Royal Highness Catherine, The Princess of Wales, Shaun Wane's side showed no ill-affects from the wet and windy conditions — racing out of the blocks to record a 38-point lead after just 27 minutes of play.
Tommy Makinson would grab the headlines for the hosts, becoming the first player to score five tries in one game an England jersey, finishing the day with 30 of his side's 46 points after landing five conversions to go with his four-pointers.
It was a first half to remember for the hosts, who at one point scored with five consecutive sets to put the game beyond doubt inside the opening half an hour.
George Williams' kicking game in wet conditions was superb, setting up a number of tries throughout the opening half, while Kallum Watkins and Dominic Young continued to highlight their bright partnership on the right edge with several tries.
It was Thomas Burgess who laid the platform early for England and was rewarded with the first try of the match after five minutes, his first Test try since 2016.
Williams finishes off a superb England team try
When Sam Tomkins found Makinson with a grubber after eight minutes to double the hosts' lead the signs were ominous for England, and they soon proved right as the floodgates began to open.
A Williams kick led to Young crossing for his ninth try in the World Cup after 14 minutes before two more kicks led to tries for Makinson — the latter of which came after a successful captain's challenge from Tomkins following a knock-on from Papua New Guinea fullback Alex Johnston in the in-goal.
The halfback would get on the scoresheet himself as he completed a fine team try which was started by John Bateman inside his own half, with England remarkably holding a 38-0 lead over the Kumuls inside the opening half an hour.
Having dominated proceedings as strongly as they did early on, England were unsurprisingly somewhat flat to start the second stanza, with ill-discipline and a more resilient defensive effort from the Kumuls limited their scoring opportunities.
Eventually the hosts would crack the try-line again, with Makinson grabbing his fourth try of the afternoon after some good hands from Herbie Farnworth.
Veteran forward Elliott Whitehead would be given an early mark by Wane with 30 minutes remaining in the match, while hooker Michael McIlorum would also be withdrawn from the action with 20 minutes to go and the result secured.
Wane: Faultless first half
Having grown into the contest after their disastrous first half, Papua New Guinea would eventually be rewarded with their first points of the match in the 69th minute; Jimmy Ngutlik showing good awareness to touch down an Alex Johnston grubber in the left corner with Rhyse Martin adding the extras from the sideline.
It was only fitting, however, that the game finished in the hands of Williams and Makinson, with the halfback setting up the winger for his record-breaking fifth try.
Match: England v Papua New Guinea
Quarter Finals -
Papua New Guinea
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
- Thomas Burgess scored his first try for England since a Test match against France in 2016, paving the way for his side's bright start to the game.
- Tommy Makinson scored a first half hat-trick for England, going on to become the first player in an England jersey to score five tries in one game.
- Papua New Guinea didn't play the ball inside England's 20-metre line until the 33rd minute of the match and ended the first half with just five completed sets.
- England scored tries in five consecutive sets, while Papua New Guinea had just nine runs of the football by the time the hosts had racked up a 38-0 lead.
- Dominic Young scored his ninth try of this year's World Cup, trailing only Australia's Josh Addo-Carr (11) for most tries scored at the tournament.
- Having scored 38 points in the first half, England managed just four in the second, with ill-discipline and good defence from the Kumuls holding them out.
Makinson wins player of the match
Play of the Game
With England running rampant throughout the first half, it was George Williams who capped off the hosts' best four-pointer of the day. Starting with John Bateman 60 metres from the try-line, the edge forward cut back against the grain to find space for Sam Tomkins to race away, the fullback then linking up with Kallum Watkins who offloaded for Williams, who slid 10 metres in the wet to score under the posts.
What They Said
"It's a special achievement [scoring five tries] but going to London for a semi-final is going to be bigger, so I just can't wait. Five tries is good, but at the end of the day I want to be a World Cup winner and that's what we're building towards. There will be bigger games to come and hopefully I can do it then too." — England winger Tommy Makinson
England will face the winner of Tonga and Samoa next week in a bid to qualify for the World Cup final, while Papua New Guinea head home with automatic qualification for the 2025 World Cup secured after their quarterfinal finish.