Rugby League World Cup: Kumuls to make England work for semi-final spot
Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final - England vs PNG Odds
England's journey to RLWC glory steps into sudden death territory on Saturday with a quarter final clash in Wigan against Papua New Guinea. A nation fanatical about its rugby league, and one famous for calling the thirteen aside code its national game, expect wonderful shots of Papua New Guineans crowded round television sets like the one pictured below at crazy times of the morning to watch their heroes try to upset the odds. It should be a ferocious game at the DW Stadium and we have enlisted our resident rugby league fanatic Billy Grimshaw to cast his eye over the odds and provide us with a preview and a couple of tips...
England vs. Papua New Guinea Tips:
There is no doubting England have been breathtakingly good in patches so far this tournament, particularly in the game against the much fancied Samoa which opened the tournament and Shaun Wane's side opened up the Samoan defence at will. The combination of Sam Tomkins at full back with Jack Welsby and George Williams in the halves is enough to give any defensive coach sleepless nights and with strike outside them such as the rejuvenated Kallum Watkins, Herbie Farnworth, former Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson and the new star of Northern Hemisphere rugby league Dom Young Papua New Guinea will surely be up against things here, The Kumuls are renowned for a fast defensive line speed and fearsomely hard hits, but this could actually count against them against an English side with handling skills as slick as this.
It would be no surprise to see PNG put up a spirited resistance and indeed cause England some problems when they manage to nail their line speed and England are not at their best. However, there is enough quality throughout this England team that when the forwards eventually assert themselves over the Papua New Guinean pack and England begin to win the battle for territory, points will not be hard to come by. England has had an explosive spell of points scoring in every game, and we don't expect this Saturday's game to be any different. With Shaun Wane renowned as a defence first coach he will have been livid to see his side concede a try to predominantly part time Greece in the last game and will have been drilling his players to defend their line staunchly.
Papua New Guinea have plenty of attacking talent in Leigh Leopards duo Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape, so they will probably get on the scoresheet at some stage, but England could really start to get the scoreboard turning if hitting their groove, especially late in the second half if the game is out of sight and The Kumuls realise their World Cup journey is over. Expect PNG to make this a true test but England to show their quality eventually and to clear the handicap of 22 with a fair bit to spare come the final hooter.
South Sydney Rabbitohs enforcer Tom Burgess is the last of the four brother dynasty standing at top level rugby league right now, but has been an absolute stalwart of the England pack for the best part of a decade now and is one of Shaun Wane's most trusted lieutenants. He has never been known for his try-scoring exploits, but this tournament has hit a rich vein of points grabbing form and indeed was priced at a massive 16/1 for a double last time out vs Greece, something he duly notched. He was also on the scoresheet against Samoa in the aforementioned opening day mauling and seems to have been lazily priced by some firms in the same category as any other run-of-the-mill prop forward.
The role Burgess is performing to great effect right now for England is as a wrecking ball of destruction unleashed by Wane about half an hour into a contest, when the starting forwards such as Chris Hill and Luke Thompson have tired out the opposition defences. Burgess has profited from this strategy and Papua New Guinea's pack are notoriously full throttle Either Burgess will be coming on to run at a tired set of forwards, or he will be coming on simultaneously as PNG's weaker forwards are also emerging from the bench. He can be expected to skittle a fair few defenders upon his arrival and with his uncanny knack to be on the shoulder of half backs in recent weeks, he looks value for a small play in the anytime try-scorer market and maybe even the last try-scorer market as well.