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Having flown somewhat under the radar in the group stage, England will look to book their place in the final four when they take on Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

In many respects, the opening three games were exactly what we expected from Wayne Bennett’s side — a tight defeat to Australia in the tournament opener before grinding out a determined Lebanon and cruising past France for an expected quarterfinal berth.

They’ll face a Papua New Guinea side full of confidence after topping Group C, with three sold out matches in Port Moresby helping the Kumuls capture some of their best form.

How they’ll fare playing away from home soil will be interesting to watch, as will be the fact whether England can take their performances up a notch from the group stage.

It’s not as if England were poor in the three matches; they simply did what most commentators thought would happen. But with New Zealand looking vulnerable and Tonga still inexperienced on the big stage, there has seemingly been no better time for the English to mount their case as being the most likely challenger to Australia, and try make amends for their heartbreaking semi-final loss to the Kiwis back in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in London.

The return of Sam Burgess from injury is a huge boost for England, who have again opted to name Gareth Widdop at fullback following his strong showing last week.

Quarterfinal 4: England vs. PNG


Date — Sunday, November 19, 2017

Time — 4:00pm AEDT

Venue — AAMI Park, Melbourne



Live Stream — Channel 7’s (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.





Papua New Guinea

Gareth Widdop


David Mead (capt.)

Jermaine McGillvary


Justin Olam

Kallum Watkins


Kato Ottio

John Bateman


Nene Macdonald

Ryan Hall


Garry Lo

Kevin Brown


Ase Boas

Luke Gale


Watson Boas

Chris Hill


Moses Meninga

Josh Hodgson


James Segeyaro

James Graham


Luke Page

Sam Burgess


Rhyse Martin

Elliott Whitehead


Willie Minoga

Sean O’Louglin (capt.)


Paul Aiton

Alex Walmsley


Kurt Baptiste

Thomas Burgess


Stargroth Amean

Ben Currie


Stanton Albert

James Roby


Rod Griffin

Reserves (ENG) — Chris Heighington, Mark Percival, Stefan Ratchford

Reserves (PNG) — Enock Maki, Wartovo Puara, Thompson Teteh, Lachlan Lam




Game 1 — Australia 18 def. England 4 at AAMI Park, Melbourne

Game 2 — England 29 def. Lebanon 10 at Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Game 3 — England 36 def. France 6 at Perth Stadium, Perth

Papua New Guinea

Game 1 — PNG 50 def. Wales 6 at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

Game 2 — PNG 14 def. Ireland 6 at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

Game 3 — PNG 64 def. United States 0 at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby



England has played two official Test matches and one friendly against Papua New Guinea, and are yet to taste defeat to the hands of the Kumuls. They first met in the 2008 World Cup where England recorded a hard-fought 32-22 win, before backing that up two years later with a 36-10 victory in Auckland as part of the 2010 Four Nations. Interestingly, England is yet to win in a Test played in Melbourne from three games.


KEY MATCHUP — Jermaine McGillvary (England) vs. Garry Lo (PNG)

In terms of powerhouse wingers, Jermaine McGillvary set the tournament alight in the opening game with a superb performance in a losing side against Australia. After being cleared of a biting allegation in England’s win over Lebanon, the powerful winger has set his sights solely on making headlines for the right reason this tournament, and he’ll certainly fancy his chances at adding to his attacking statistics this Sunday against PNG. McGillvary has averaged over 200 metres per game so far in the World Cup, while also recording eight linebreaks and four tries in three games — numbers not matched by too many other wingers. However, one of those wingers who can lay claim to the feats of McGillvary is PNG winger Garry Lo — one of the genuine excitement machines of the tournament. Lo crossed for a crucial four-pointe against Ireland in the Kumuls’ second game, and had over 12 tackle breaks in that game alone from his ferocious kick returns.  These two strong and powerful wingers will be directly marking each other on Sunday, so look for plenty of fireworks out on the edge as they try to get their team on top.



Papua New Guinea have had perhaps the biggest advantage of any team at the World Cup with all three group stage games at home, and while it was certainly a smart move to grow the game in Port Moresby, it might not help the Kumuls’ preparation this weekend. Wayne Bennett will know exactly what his side need to do to record another win and earn their spot in the semifinals — as is expected of them — and while it might not be the prettiest performance, it will be one that gets the job done. Which, is probably exactly all Bennett really wants of his team at the end of the day. England by 16. 

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