The National, Friday November 1st, 2013
PAPUA New Guinea’s hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Rugby League World are still alive.
They just have to beat Samoa on Tuesday morning to give themselves a chance of finishing second or third in Group B.
Only one match has been played between the two countries. That was in March, 2009, when Samoa beat a PNG Residents team 26-18.
A physical Samoa lost their first match to New Zealand 42-24 on Monday morning.
Coach Adrian Lam said there would be changes for the match that was now the most important clash of his career.
Unused prop Joe Bruno, utility Wellington Albert, goalkickers in backrower Sebastian Pandia and Francis Paniu could find themselves in Lam’s 17 as PNG looks to snare a desparately needed win at Craven Park.
Lam is set to announce his squad tomorrow with all 23 players available.
Lam is also expected to confirm who will be the side’s designated goalkicker with David Mead still a chance of retaining the duties.
General manager Matthew Natusch said there were no injury concerns and the players were keen to make amends against Samoa.
Scotland’s gutsy 26-24 win over Tonga in their Group C clash on Wednesday morning has given the Kumuls confidence they can spring a surprise on Samoa.
The Kumuls will be buoyed by the fact that they beat Scotland convincingly (38-20) in a warm-up last month.
And the Danny Brough-led Bravehearts turned their form around to edge out a Tongan side that are on par with Samoa.
Tonga crushed Samoa 36-4 in an international earlier in the year.
Pre-World Cup form may count for little, however PNG does have a very good record against the Pacific Island countries, particularly Tonga and Fiji.
The Kumuls have beaten Tonga three times and drawn once in the four times they have met.
The biggest win was a 56-16 thrashing in 1996 while their two World Cup clashes were a 28-28 draw in 1995 and a 22-18 win in 2000.
Samoa have a strong side that has National Rugby League talent led by Reni Maitua, Ben Roberts, Mose Masoe, Antonio Winterstein and Daniel Vidot.