Papua New Guinea completed an unbeaten pool campaign in Port Moresby with a 64-0 demolition of USA, running in 11 tries to the delight of the 14,800-strong crowd.
Debutant five-eighth Lachlan Lam – son of Kumuls legend Adrian – had a brilliant double inside 16 minutes as the hosts raced to a 22-0 lead, before the Hawks stemmed the flow of points somewhat to head to the sheds 34-0 down.
Starting with a blistering 80-metre kick-return try, the Kumuls added another five four-pointers in the second half, with winger Justin Olam completing a hat-trick by scoring the last two of the match. Back-rower Rhyse Martin booted 10 goals from 11 attempts.
The only downside for the rampant Papua New Guinea side was an injury to wing powerhouse Garry Lo in the 49th minute which could put his place in the line-up to take on England in the quarter-finals in jeopardy.
The heavy loss completed a difficult campaign for a USA that qualified for the quarters four years ago, conceding 168 points in three games and failing to trouble the scorers in their last two games.
Papua New Guinea 64 (Justin Olam 3, Lachlan Lam 2, James Segeyaro, Rod Griffin, Stargoth Armean, David Mead, Watson Boas, Nene MacDonald tries; Rhyse Martin 10 goals) d USA 0 at Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.
Ireland finished a strong RLWC showing with a 34-6 thumping of Wales in the first match of Sunday’s Perth double-header.
Ex-Parramatta centre Api Pewhairangi scored the first try for the Wolfhounds in the eighth minute, and after a concerted period of Welsh resistance, Ireland took firm control with three tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
Wales centre Ben Morris crossed for the second-half opener in the 58th minute to breathe life into the contest at 22-6, but Ireland posted two more tries – including interchange forward Oliver Roberts’ second – to put the seal on their second win of the tournament.
Only a valiant 14-6 loss to PNG in Port Moresby prevented the Wolfhounds from progressing to the knockout phase, while they could only look on as a winless Samoa outfit made their way into the quarters, such is the Cup’s lopsided format.
Ireland 34 (Oliver Roberts 2, Api Pewhairangi, Joe Philbin, Liam Finn, Liam Kay tries; Finn 5 goals) d Wales 6 (Ben Morris try; C Davies goal) at Perth Stadium.
A dominant first-half performance laid the platform for England’s scrappy 36-6 defeat of France in the final group match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Gareth Widdop – playing at fullback – scorched over for the opening try after just two minutes, and the favourites had piled on four more by the half-hour mark to power to a 26-0 lead.
Ben Garcia ensured France had the final say before the break, however, scoring a soft try from dummy-half.
England started the second stanza impressively, a backline shift sending Jermaine McGillvary over out wide in the 42nd minute. But a near-identical effort for the big winger to bag his second with 16 minutes left was the only other score of the match.
Regarded as arguably Australia’s biggest threat pre-tournament, England will need to improve to get past Papua New Guinea and likely Tonga if they are to reach their first World Cup final in 22 years.
England 36 (Jermaine McGillvary 2, Gareth Widdop, Stefan Ratchford, James Graham, Mark Percival, John Bateman tries; Widdop 4 goals) d France 6 (Ben Garcia try; Lucas Albert goal) at Perth Stadium.