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banner Monday, 6 November, 2000, 22:58 GMT
PNG make last eight
Tonga's Kaufusi under pressure from Lam and Marum
Tonga's Kaufusi under pressure from Lam and Marum
Papua New Guinea 30-22 Tonga

Hull star Stanley Gene inspired Papua New Guinea to a Lincoln World Cup quarter-final clash with Wales in a hard fought win over Tonga at Perpignan.

The unbeaten Kumuls top Group 3 at the end of the pool stages. Host nation France, who finished second, will face New Zealand.

Both sides had everything to play for and swapped early penalties in the opening salvo of a thrilling game.

Winger John Wiltshere got PNG on the board in the fifth minute but Fifita Moala drew the Tongans level two minutes later.

And it was Tonga who were first across the try line after 10 minutes when Moala went in for the Phil Howlett pass, the winger converting his own try.

Stormed back

The Kumuls stormed back in style when half-back Adrian Lam and Gene combined superbly to put Michael Mondo in after 19 minutes, with Wiltshere converting.

Then Gene pounced on a handling error to stretch his side's lead to 12-6 four minutes later.

Adrian Lam
Adrian Lam: Aussie rout was the spur
A David Buko try, and another Wiltshere conversion, made it 18-6 after Tonga had a try from loose forward Willie Manu disallowed.

But Willie Mason powered his way over under the posts a minute before half-time to give Tonga hope and Moala added the extras to leave PNG sweating on a 18-12 lead.

Wiltshere eased the Kumuls' nerves with a penalty two minutes into the second period, and prop Raymond Karl crashed over to seemingly put PNG well in control.

But Tonga came back with a second try from Moala and a stunning effort from Bradford Bulls star Tevita Vaikona brought his side to within two points at 24-22.


But the game swung firmly in PNG's favour when Gene swooped for his second try of the night as he got on the end of an inch-perfect Lam kick, Wiltshere converting.

Spirited Tonga stormed back but they could not quite get the points they needed, leaving Papua New Guinea to board the plane to England.

We set ourselves the goal of winning the group and reaching the quarter-finals and we have done that. It is sure to lift the country
  Adrian Lam
Afterwards skipper Lam pointed to his side's recent 82-0 thrashing by Australia as the motivating factor behind their win.

"Our embarrassment against Australia was good for us in a way. It was a real wake-up call and it made the guys muscle up for this game.

"We set ourselves the goal of winning the group and reaching the quarter-finals and we have done that. It is sure to lift the country.

"Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world where rugby league is the national sport - 3.8 million people live there and at least 2.8 million will have been listening to this game on the radio."

Tonga coach Murray Hurst said: "We wanted to go to England, but there is do doubt that Papua New Guinea were the better side on the night.

"They are a small developing rugby league country like us and it is nice to see them go through. We also set ourselves the goal of making the last eight and we are gutted that we have not done so."

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See also:

05 Nov 00 |  Group 2
New Zealand crush battling Wales
02 Nov 00 |  Group 3
Kumuls see off dogged Rhinos
28 Oct 00 |  Group 3
Papua New Guinea stun French
17 Oct 00 |  Group 1
Rampant Australia destroy PNG
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