The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013
IT was the one that got away. Kumuls coach Adrian Lam said he felt “gutted” for his players after their heartbreaking one-point loss to France yesterday.
Papua New Guinea were edged by Les Tricolores 9-8 in wet, blustery conditions at Craven Park, in Hull, in the first match of the Rugby League World Cup Group B.
Fullback David Mead missed a golden opportunity to clinch the match with 90 seconds to go. The Gold Coast winger hooked a penalty from 30m out and in front, leaving the French to hold out the Kumuls for 70 seconds before celebrating a hard fought win.
Ironically, the Kumuls last beat the French 23-20 at the 2000 World Cup almost 13 years ago to the day.
Lam said no one was to blame for the loss and despite several missed opportunities, he was proud of the effort put in.
“The team is obviously extremely saddened and disappointed with the result. With a minute to go everyone thought we had the game. The players are deeply disappointed and I’m gutted for them. They really tried hard and should have got the win,” Lam said.
“It wasn’t just the missed penalty. We had several chances in the match to put the French away. Jesse Joe (Nandye) getting held up over the try line and the fact that we had a good period for the first 20 minutes of second half where we had the ball in good field position but we just couldn’t score points of it.
Of Mead’s missed kick Lam said he felt for the 24-year-old, who was one of the best for PNG on the night.
“David put his hand up to do our goal kicking. It was a job he wanted and we had confidence in him. He’s pretty upset about it (missed penalty goal) and I suppose what really makes it hard to take is that it was right in front. That’s got to hurt but the team is behind him.”
Lam said they had to beat Samoa on Saturday to have any chance of making the quarter-finals. “It’s not over. We still have a chance. We have to beat Samoa on Saturday and we’ve got a shot at the quarters.”
Samoa lost to New Zealand 42-24 and are favoured to finished second in the group.