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RLWC : PNG Kumuls v Ireland match preview

Ireland surprised everyone last weekend when they beat Italy 36-12, who on paper were tipped to be easy winners, after turning in what Wolfhounds coach Mark Aston described as their best performance.
"The first 40 minutes, were probably the proudest I've ever been as a coach of any team,” said Aston.

"Certainly, the last six when I've been coach of Ireland, that ranks as the best performance - without a shadow of a doubt."

Ireland qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2000 and 2008 World Cups and will be looking to do so again by beating the Kumuls at Oil Search National Football Stadium after falling short in 2013,

Out to put a stop to Ireland’s progress is Papua New Guinea, who are hoping for a repeat of last week and put on another try scoring festival in front of a packed home crowd.

Papua New Guinea crossed for 10 tries including a brilliant hat-trick from captain and fullback David Mead, in their last appearance at Port Mosby Stadium.

But despite the magnitude of the win, Mead still believes his team has more improvement to make before they are at their best.

“We’ve taken a lot of confidence from the win, but there are still things to fix up and improve on both in defence and attack,” said the 28-year-old.

“Our ball security is one thing. I thought if we controlled the ball a bit better and built more pressure, we could have done a bit more damage against Wales.”

The winner of the match is set to finish first in Pool C and book a quarter-final berth in Melbourne on Sunday, 19 November against the team finishing second in Pool A – either England or Lebanon.

Ireland will field an unchanged side from the one that braced the heat in Cairns last week, and will need to do the same up in Port Moresby with hot weather predicted.

As for the Kumuls, they have also retained much the same side from the one that crushed Wales last week, except for a few minor positional changes.

Raiders rake, Kurt Baptiste, makes his way from the bench into the starting hooker position while back Stargroth Amean comes onto the bench.

Ireland has never played PNG in an international game of rugby league before, but they go up to Port Moresby prepared to combat the Kumuls direct style of play.

Ireland halfback, Liam Finn, is excited for the game and knows what a win would mean for their World Cup hopes.

"We’ve been excited about it for the whole trip, but it’s even more exciting now we’ve got the win under our belts,

"Next week is important - if we can go there and knock them off then we’re in a good position to get through our group."

Papua New Guinea vs Ireland

James Coman1  | @JamesComan1
Rugby League World Cup 2017 Reporter‌‌
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