By TRAVERTZ MABONE
AUSTRALIA continued their dominance in the annual Prime Minister’s XIII fixture defeating PNG 30-18 in front of a packed Lloyd Robson oval yesterday.
For the fifth consecutive year since the PM’s XIII challenge began, PNG did not get the win but were competitive throughout six tries to three loss.
Now the next step is the Four Nations tournament next month in Australia and New Zealand.
Since going into camp last Wednesday, the Kumuls had a lot of work against the rugby giants and returned a respectable match under novice national coach Stanley Gene.
Kangaroo secondrower Ben Smith went over for the visitors’ first try in the 9th minute but they had to work hard for it after a torrid opening.
PNG maintained a strong defensive line to trail 4-0 at the halfway mark of a match played in 20- minute quarters.
In the 45th minute, Australian prop Luke Douglas crashed through for his side’s second of the afternoon which five-eighth James Maloney converted for a 10-0 lead.
The Kumuls replied with an exciting try to lock Glen Nami in the 51st minute prefaced by a slashing cross-field run by winger Michael Mark.
Fullback Ryan Tongia converted to trail 10-6.
Australia’s Fijian winger, Akuila Uate, grabbed a soft try minutes later under the uprights for skipper Corey Parker to convert to keep a 10-point buffer at 16-6. PNG forwards worked well both in defence and attack but it was their offence that wowed the crowed which easily matched their Australian counterparts.
Australian monster forward Dave Taylor when introduced terrorised the Kumuls and had them on the back foot setting up a try for South Sydney teammate and halfback Chris Sandow after breaking the line and sprinting 50m dash.
Experienced Kumul Nixon Kolo had an almost instant impact coming off the bench when he ran onto a perfectly timed Dion Aiye short ball to score PNG’s second he added hgis second and PNG’s third minutes later from some smart dummyhalf work by reserve Charlie Wabo. Both tries were converted by Tongia for to cut down the deficit to 26-18.
But as usual Australia found another gear when it counted with centre Willie Tonga sealing their victory with a try right on full time.
Australian coach Mal Meninga was ever delighted with their performance and thanked the Kumuls for putting up a very strong challenge.
Gene was quite impressed by his side who he said put up an excellent effort despite just getting together four days before the match.
“I am over my head, it’s the first time we had the bulk of local players from PNG and and I’m very impressed to see that we can play footy up to the standard shown today (yesterday) so now our next big challenge in the Four Nations tournament.”
“We’ve got three weeks to work with a 30-man squad that will be trimmed down to 23 however I’m not sure if the bulk of this team will remain as it will be up to the selectors but overall they put on a great show.”
The best for PNG were skipper Paul Aiton, Aiye, Tongia, Mark, Nami and Rodney Pora.