By ISAAC LIRI
PAPUA New Guinea Kumuls stats in terms of points against places the Michael Marum-coached side as one of the best defensive sides after the pool stages of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
The Kumuls have conceded two converted tries in their three games topping pool C with 12 points against, just behind the Australian Kangaroos who have conceded 10 points. Two of the tries scored against the Kumuls came from kicks in the games against Wales and Ireland but the Kumuls’ overall defence was described by coach Michael Marum as outstanding.
“Our overall defence throughout our three games was impressive and I am really pleased with how the boys have handled it,” Marum said.
Heading into the quarterfinals against England in Melbourne on Sunday, Marum was aware of England’s capability as a strong contender to win the tournament.
But looking at the defensive effort after the pool stages despite playing different opponents, England had conceded 34 points against them mostly from Australia.
Kumuls skipper David Mead commended his side’s efforts on defence during their three pool games at home but admitted that they would have to maintain and improve in that area against England who are ranked third in the world.
“Our defence has been really good and that’s important for us leading into the quarterfinal against England but I’m sure there are some areas to patch up,” Mead said.
England finished second in pool A with two wins over Lebanon and France and a loss to Australia while the Kumuls were unbeaten with wins over Wales, Ireland and US in Pool C.
Meanwhile, the last time the Kumuls managed to beat Great Britain was in 1990 (20-18) at the former Lloyd Robson Oval now the Oil Search National Football Stadium.
The quarterfinal match-up between Papua New Guinea and England will also be significant in a sense that the first ever international rugby league match for the PNG Kumuls after its establishment in 1975 was against England where the Kumuls lost 40-12.
By ISAAC LIRI