The Rugby League World Cup is still reeling from the shock of New Zealand losing on Saturday but it continues on Sunday when two more sides look to book the final spot in the semi-finals. England take on Papua New Guinea in Melbourne for the right to face Tonga in the last four next weekend.
Both these sides have given the tournament plenty of energy so far but only one will go through. We’re all set up for a competitive and fascinating last quarter final of the event.
As with a couple of the other fancied nations in this tournament you would be hard pressed to suggest that England have been at their best so far but when the event started the first three weeks were all about momentum and building up to this stage where the real competitive element to the proceedings begin.
England will be delighted with how they have defended and if they can continue that here and find some cohesion in their attacking play then they will believe they have every chance of progressing through this match. Winning will be the primary aim of course but to win in a stylish margin would lay a marker down.
Papua New Guinea
We should say that Papua New Guinea haven’t faced much in the tournament to date but that did not stop Fiji on Saturday so these could be very dangerous if England allow them to be. PNG have run up a lot of points in this tournament so if they get near England’s line they should be confident enough to plough through it.
The concerns for the Papua New Guineans would be that they have not faced any sort of attacking unit so far in the tournament and also that their matches so far have been in their home conditions which clearly suits them but this match is in Melbourne where they may not be quite so advantaged. They will need a huge effort here.
Amazingly England will have Sam Burgess back for this quarter final. He was expected to be out for slightly longer but has recovered for the match. The likes of Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins also return to the side.
Papua New Guinea have a doubt over Garry Lo for the quarter final. Surprisingly Lachlan Lam has been left out of the side. Former Leeds hooker James Segeyaro has been included.
England have a chance to lay a marker down here and I think they will do so. I’m not convinced they’ll run up silly numbers in victory if I’m honest but I am surprised we can get them on a handicap line as low as 16pts.
That is three converted tries and I think England are a little bit better than that. England’s defence has been tight throughout the tournament and I expect their attacking play to get much better from here on in especially with Sam Burgess back. England by more than 16pts for me.
WON – Back England (-16) to beat Papua New Guinea for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Coral