By ISAAC LIRI
LACHLAN Lam made a memorable debut for Papua New Guinea as they recorded their biggest win of the Rugby League World Cup over the US Hawks yesterday at the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
The 19-year-old five-eighth showed his class scoring two first-half tries in an impressive start to his representative career with the PNG LNG Kumuls hammering the Hawks 64-0 in an 11-try rout in front of a sell-out crowd in Port Moresby.
The victory saw the coach Michael Marum’s men advance to the quarterfinals to face England in Melbourne next Sunday and if successful then face the winner of Tonga-Lebanon match in the semifinal.
Marum described the game as a memorable one with veterans Paul Aiton and Rod Griffin farewelled in front of their home crowd in style while Justin Olam became the second Kumul to score a hat-trick of tries, and young Lam bagged a double on debut.
“We are really proud of the effort of the boys. We are proud of the effort throughout the three games and we now look forward to the quarterfinals,” Marum said.
“All our 23 players got an opportunity to play and that’s great to see as well so we will celebrate this victory and look forward to the quarterfinal next week.
“Lachlan Lam had an outstanding game, he scored two tries in the first half and he combined well with James Segeyaro and Watson Boas which was good to see.”
The home side created opportunities from the get go with Justin Olam running the length of the field only to be called back by referee but that only delayed the inevitable.
Lam got the partisan crowd screaming, and would have made his father and former Kumul legend Adrian Lam proud when he scored the first try in the 9th minute under the uprights after backing up a James Segayaro break.
Rhyse Martin added the extras for a 6-0 lead.
The Americans were punished for kicking the ball out on the full giving Marum’s men good field position which led to Olam’s first of the day in the 12th minute.
Martin failed to convert as the Kumuls led 10-0.
Two minutes later Segeyaro got himself a four-pointer under the posts and two minutes after that Lam crossed over for his second try on debut.
Martin converted both tries giving the home side a 22-0 lead after the first quarter.
With 15 minutes remaining before halftime, Griffin scored his first try of the World Cup.
Martin made no mistake with the conversion.
Stargroth Amean got his name on the scoresheet with a minute left on the clock before the break as Martin converted to give the Kumuls a 34-0 lead at halftime.
The second half saw sloppy plays by both sides and an American error saw Kumul skipper David Mead run 70m to score two minutes into the second half.
Martin dutifully added the extras.
Most of the first quarter of the second half went without points as both sides made errors.
Watson Boas finally scored with 19 minutes remaining before full time as Martin converted.
Two minutes later Nene Macdonald scored out wide and Martin again struck the pill sweetly which saw the Kumuls surpass their previous biggest World Cup win a 50-6 thrashing of over Wales two weeks ago.
With 13 minutes left on the clock, Olam got his second of the day and snatched his third in the 75th minute as Martin kept his near perfect record with the boot.
The goal-kicking lock finished with 10 conversions from 11 attempts for a 20-point haul.
Despite the win Kumuls winger Garry Lo came off with an ankle injury and is in doubt for the quarterfinal.
Papua New Guinea 64 (Justin Olam 3, Lachlan Lam 2, James Segeyaro, Rod Griffin, Stargroth Amean, David Mead, Watson Boas, Nene Macdonald tries; Rhyse Martin 10 con) USA 0 at Oil Search National Football Stadium, Port Moresby. Halftime: PNG 34-0. Crowd: 14,800.
By ISAAC LIRI