Papua New Guinea beat US 64-0, reach World Cup quarterfinals

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) Lachlan Lam scored two tries on debut as Papua New Guinea overwhelmed the United States 64-0 on Sunday to advance unbeaten into the quarterfinals of the Rugby League World Cup.

Lam lived up to a rich pedigree as the son of one of Papua New Guinea’s most famous rugby league products, Adrian Lam, who played 14 times for Queensland in Australia’s State of Origin competition and has both played for and coached his home nation.

Playing at halfback, just as his father did, Lam scored the Kumuls’ first try and touched down again as Papua New Guinea raced to a 22-0 lead after 16 minutes, putting the result of the match beyond doubt.

Papua New Guinea progressed to the quarterfinals against England, which beat France 36-6 in the last of the group games in Perth on Sunday night, while the United States exited the tournament with three straight losses after being beaten 58-12 by Fiji and 46-0 by Italy.

Ireland posted its largest test victory when it beat Wales 34-6 but was denied a quarterfinals place as the unluckiest team at the tournament.

Oliver Roberts scored two tries and Liam Finn scored a try and kicked five goals from six attempts as Ireland posted its second win from three matches in group play.

But only one team could progress from Group C and Papua New Guinea’s 14-6 win over Ireland in the second round ensured the Irish missed out on a quarterfinals place.

PNG beat Wales 50-6 and Ireland by eight points, playing all of their pool matches in front of jubilant home crowds in the capital Port Moresby. Sunday’s match was played in intense heat, forcing play to be suspended in both halves for players to rehydrate. PNG will have to adapt for Sunday’s quarterfinal against the English in Melbourne, Australia.

The United States was unable to compete with Papua New Guinea’s physical style, its pace and offloading ability. Its 27 missed tackles in the first half alone contributed to the home team’s largest ever win in a rugby league international, beating the mark it set against Wales earlier in the tournament.

Lam set the ball rolling with his first try in the eighth minute. Winger Justin Olam scored next and went on to score three tries in the match, two in the second half.

James Segenyaro, a constant attacking threat out of dummy half, touched down in the 13th minute and when Lam scored his second, Papua New Guinea had taken charge of the match with four tries inside the first quarter.

Further tries to Rod Griffin and Stargroth Armean carried Papua New Guinea to a 34-0 lead by halftime.

There was no respite in the second half; fullback David Mead scored his fourth try of the tournament only two minute after the break as Papua New Guinea’s lead reached 40-0.

Watson Boas and Nene McDonald scored through the middle of the second half then Olam finished with his second and third tries, in the 65th and 75th minutes to complete to rout.

Lam was voted player of the match, after waiting through the first three weeks of the tournament for his international debut.

”It was a great game and I got a couple of tries there too which made it more special,” Lam said.

In other quarterfinals, confirmed by matches on Saturday, hosts Australia will face Samoa in Darwin on Friday night and New Zealand will meet Fiji after its shock 28-22 loss to Tonga. Group B winner Tonga will face Lebanon in Christchurch next Saturday.