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Page last updated at 08:31 GMT, Saturday, 25 October 2008 09:31 UK

England v PNG as it happened

Full-time: England 32-22 Papua New Guinea: Townsville

Text 81111 (with "RUGBYL" as the first word) or use 606 (Not all contributions can be used)
By Pranav Soneji

1148: That's it for me today - Paul Fletcher will be in the text commentary hotseat for Sunday's double header featuring Scotland and France before the tasty Anzac affair of Australia v New Zealand.

1145: To slightly paraphrase legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell: "Forget your Agatha Christie, forget your Alfred Hitchcock, this is rugby league." What a thoroughly entertaining match. England failed to unleash their slick passing game and were bossed by a belligerent Stanley Gene, who dictated the first 60 minutes of the match from stand-off. England will be hoping the Hull KR man doesn't use all his inspirational juice in one match - can he do the same to the Aussies and Kiwis?

"Well done England and Tony Smith - you've overcome your Andorra, now onto the semis!"
Rockfmbus via TEXT 81111


80 mins: These Kumuls have heart bigger than a whale's, but their doughty endeavours come to nothing as the final hooter sounds, much to the relief of the English boys, who look thoroughly spent.

"Great consolation try for the Kumuls, they have done themselves proud and played hard for the whole match."
Stroller95 on 606

75 mins: England 32-22 Papua New Guinea
More Stanley Gene genius, this time with a left-footed grubber from five metres sees Paul Aiton touch down for PNG's fourth try of the evening. These boys really don't know how to give up. Potential squeaky bum time for Tony Smith and the 17 lads in white.

72 mins: England 32-16 Papua New Guinea
Keith Senior barges through a gaping hole on the left wing before a pass into the hands of club team-mate Lee Smith for his hat-trick. Shane Hayne goes to the video referee as John Wilshere appeals for a knock-on, but to no avail as TRY appears on the big screen. Kevin Sinfield misses the conversion from wide on the right.

69 mins: England 28-16 Papua New Guinea
Makali Aizue almost sends James Graham to Cairns with an almighty shoulder hit, but the Hull KR prop cannot prevent a superb passing move between Sinfield, Gleeson and Pryce for Ade Gardner to touch down for his second try of the night. Sinfield adds another brilliant conversion from the right touchline, his fourth of the evening. England in control here.

67 mins: England are firmly entrenched in PNG territory now, although that doesn't prevent the Kumuls from whizzing the ball out to winger George Keppa on the right, which sends the flags waving in the stands.

65 mins: Stanley Gene makes his first mistake of the night, knocking on from a Gareth Hock tackle. Apologies all round from the 34-year-old.

63 mins: Wonderful jinky feet from replacement Danny McGuire allows club team-mate Lee Smith to touch down for what looks like his hat-trick - only for the merry whistleblower Shane Hayne to disallow the score for a forward pass. it's 1-1 on that front.

"Am I the only person imagining Jerry Seinfeld lining up the kicks for England?"
Dan Lucas, Northampton via TEXT 81111

Errrr, yes, although George Costanza might have been playing for England in the first half.

58 mins: England 22-16 Papua New Guinea
England pummel the PNG tryline, but strength isn't going to get them across the tryline so Rob Burrow opts for subtlety and sends through Martin Gleeson with a tremendous inside pass for the Warrington man to touch down. Kevin Sinfield adds his third conversion of the night.

56 mins: England are attempting to turn the screw here - PNG are penalised for not standing square inside their own 20m line.

55 mins: James Graham is twice hauled down two metres from the Kumuls' tryline, try as England might, the PNG defence as solid as Stanley Gene's barrel chest.

51 mins: England 16-16 Papua New Guinea
Jon Wilkin and Adrian Morley are on for England and the former fashions the ball out to Lee Smith, who cuts through for his second try of the evening. The scores remain level as Sinfield misses a tough kick from the touchline.

48 mins: A slick PNG passing move sees David Moore waltz through to touch down in the corner, sending the packed Townsville stadium into raptures - only for referee Shane Hayne to curtail the celebrations because of a forward pass to Moore. The replays show the decision was close, but the ball did travel forwards into the winger's hands. But once again England were cut to pieces with Gene the conductor at stand-off.

45 mins: That's more like it from Leon Pryce, who recreates a bit of club magic and makes 20 metres picking the ball up from dummy-half. The same move sees Ade Gardner force a drop-out from under the posts.

43 mins: Makali Aizue absolutely nails little Rob Burrow with a crunching tackle, while a high ball from Kevin Sinfield just evades the leaping Ade Gardner on the right-hand side corner. News just in - PNG's Jessie Joe Parker - who sustained a big blow to the eye in the first half - has fractured an eye socket and could be out for the rest of the tournament.

41 mins: The Kumuls are penalised for not releasing in the tackle, allowing England an early opportunity to eat up valuable yards up the field.

"Brilliant stuff from PNG! They're playing their hearts out and England just don't deserve anything from this based on the first half."
CherryPie on 606

1055: Both teams are back out for the second half. Buckle up people, we're in for a bumpy ride...

1052: I wonder if Tony Smith had prepared for this particular scenario when he was sat at home a few weeks back. There doesn't seem to be much ranting and raving in the dressing room, but our Tony isn't really the teacup-flinging type. Apart from the delayed pass which sent Lee Smith in, Rob Burrow has been muted while half-back partner Leon Pryce has been equally ineffective, unlike his opposite number Stanley Gene, who is bossing this game. I wonder if Hull KR boss Justin Morgan ever thought he could play like this for Rovers? Any Rovers fans ever seen Gene at stand-off? Let us know.

"Any idea of what the crowd is in Townsville? Hoping for some good turnouts this time, unlike in 2000."
Richard in Cardiff via TEXT 81111

It's a packed crowd in the brilliantly named Dairy Farmer's Stadium, both full of England and PNG fans. It's fair to say it's a more than useful start to the RLWC. No doubt the Aussies in the crowd will be loving this.

"Got to give them credit - fantastic game. Hopefully they will tire!" Chris, St Helens on TEXT 81111


38 mins: England 12-16 Papua New Guinea
England concede their fifth penalty of the first half, this time for not standing square. The ensuing penalty sees a high kick horribly hashed by winger Lee Smith and the ball finds its way to George Keppa, who touches down to give the Kumuls a thoroughly well-deserved lead going into half time. John Wilshere misses with the conversion attempt.

"While Stanley Gene is still in this game, PNG are still in this game. The alarm bells keep ringing for England when PNG get a repeat set on England's try line. Their flair close to the line is impressive but England have to stop them getting there."
Former St Helens and Wigan coach Ian Millward on BBC Five Live Sports Extra

35 mins: England 12-12 Papua New Guinea
Dream stand-off play from Stanley Gene, who sends Jason Chan through a huge gap created by Keith Senior as he mistimes his rush to tackle his opponent. The stadium once again erupts as John Wilshere adds the two points. Tony Smith must be shifting very uncomfortably in his seat.

33 mins: PNG reset the tackle count as Gene's grubber rebounds off Ade Gardner, but the Saints winger fails to hold on to the ball in the ensuing melee and it finds is way back to yellow hands. Papua New Guinea are camped on England's 20m line - and they are steadfastedly refusing to move. More basic errors from England, this time a forward pass.

"If England lose this, their World Cup will have ended before it even started and the anti-rugby leaguers will have another reason to laugh at our sport."
Sham123 on 606

"Lee Smith showed a bit of toughness diving in for that try. England needed that score to regain a bit of composure. Sinfield's kick, like the last one, showed a lot of skill."
Former St Helens and Wigan coach Ian Millward on BBC Five Live Sports Extra

27 mins: England 12-6 Papua New Guinea
A brilliant delayed pass from Rob Burrow allows Paul Wellens to fashion the ball out to Lee Smith, who makes no mistake just inches from the tryline, although the winger gets a knee in the shoulder for his troubles from the covering defender. Once again Kevin Sinfield adds the extras with another superb touchline kick.

25 mins: James Roby fumbles as he bursts for the tryline, a golden opportunity for England to re-take the lead has just gone begging.

"PNG are trying to get into a rhythm early on and they haven't shown too much to England but some of their players look like they are blowing a bit and they seem to be hanging on a bit."
Former St Helens and Wigan coach Ian Millward on BBC Five Live Sports Extra

23 mins: The PNG boys are giving it some serious high fives after every bruising tackle, a bit like the American footballers will probably be doing at Wembley on Sunday. Another run sees Wilshere's side run through an ailing English defence.

"Not seen Burrow make some of those jinxing runs yet. When he does, he can make something spectacular out of it." Mistah_Lee on 606

20 mins: England 6-6 Papua New Guinea
England are penalised for stealing the ball in the tackle and from the tap, Rod Griffin bumps off Paul Wellens and touches down after a smart pass from Neville Costigan. England are caught short as the Northern Pride loose forward runs the angles to cut through the English defence under the posts, giving John Wilshere an easy opportunity to add the two extra points. Game very much on.

17 mins: Another excellent Gene kick is gathered by Ade Gardner inside his own tryline and is immediately nailed by winger David Moore, who forces England to drop-out for the second time from under their posts.

15 mins: Lee Smith is held up just inches from the tryline as John Wilshere and George Keppa do their utmost to ensure the ball is not grounded. Great burst from the Leeds winger/full-back, who has come back from the brink with his club to earn an international call-up, but equally excellent defending from the PNG backs.

That try was a reward for sustained pressure by England. PNG ended up short on numbers on that right-hand side and England's trio of Gardner, Gleeson and Hock are looking strong there.
Former St Helens and Wigan coach Ian Millward on BBC Five Live Sports Extra

12 mins: England 6-0 Papua New Guinea
Jamie Peacock shrugs off two tackles five metres from the PNG tryline and the ball finds the hands of hooker James Roby, who sends club team-mate Ade Gardner over for the first try of the World Cup. And Kevin Sinfield adds the two points with a belter of a conversion from the right touchline.

9 mins: Kevin Sinfield launches a bomb for George Keppa, but the Brisbane Norths winger coolly jumps and collects a textbook catch surrounded by various white shirts.

7 mins: Lovely subtle left-foot grubber from Gene sees Paul Wellens ground the ball inside his own tryline, forcing England to drop-out in front of their posts. Confident start from the men in yellow.

5 mins: Brilliant tackle from Gold Coast Titans' David Moore bundles Gardner out of touch just metres from the tryline. Bruising start in Townsville - and the crowd are absolutely loving it. And England concede the first penalty of the game and PNG clear their lines down into England's half.

4 mins: Nice passing from England sees the ball fashioned out to Gardner in the corner, but the St Helens winger has to crouch and take the ball on the bounce, meaning the PNG defence takes care of any threat.

2 mins: Ade Gardner gets absolutely nailed by prop Paul Aiton as England get first use of the football.

"On the way to find a pub to show the game! Come on England!"
Anonymous via TEXT 81111

0959: Match referee Shane Hayne, looking very dapper in pink, blows his whistle and we're off.

0957: Time for some anthems and Angie Currington belts out God Saves The Queen as the camera pans across a thoroughly pumped England team. James Graham gives a bit of a "Blue Steel" look for that extra poignancy.

0955: Just a few minutes before kick-off at the Dairy Farmer's Stadium, which is unsurprisingly packed to the rafters with England and Kumuls fans. Townsville has a very strong PNG contingent, according to one of my colleagues who once played rugby there (not at the Dairy Farmer's Stadium) a few years back. He said he was absolutely knackered after 10 minutes. Not because of the heat, but because he was so unfit.

"The PNGs have a hell of a lot of stamina and will keep hitting England hard for the full 80. However, England's skills are more superior the PNG and I think this will be enough to see them through."
Csprevail on 606

0945: A quick reminder of how the two teams line up:
England: Wellens, Gardner, Gleeson, Senior, Smith, Pryce, Burrow; Graham, Roby, Peacock, Ellis, Hock, Sinfield.
Replacements: Morley, Fa'asavalu, Wilkin, McGuire.

Papau New Guinea: Wilshere; Kepa, Parker, Maori, Moore, Griffin, Peters; Aizue, Aiton, Exton, Costigan, Nightingale, Gene. Subs (three to be omitted): Pora, Moni, Chan, Wabo, Kolo, Kui, Yere.

0943: Interesting. PNG coach and former Wigan favourite Adrian Lam has named the evergreen Stanley Gene at stand-off, rather than at loose forward. Wonder what the thinking behind that is...

Talking of Gene (pronounced Gen-ay rather than Jean), some great chat from the Independent on Friday, where various rugby leagueheads took a guess at Stan's age. Former Wigan forward Bryan Fletcher plumped for 45 before adding: "It's like tackling a piece of titanium". But slightly harder, probably.

0938: Boss Tony Smith reckons his side are the best prepared England side to contest a World Cup: "There are 24 fit and healthy people who are willing and wanting to make history, and have the desire to do so." Fighting talk indeed from the fully fledged Aussie-born Pom.

This ain't one-way traffic here - use 606 (link above) or text 81111 with the word "RUGBYL" before your message. Simple, yet effective.

0932: So here it is, the 13th Rugby League World Cup in sunny Aussieland, where England kick off their campaign against Papua New Guinea in positively tropical Townsville in northern Queensland, where the temperature is a quite frankly ridiculous 28 degrees. This deserves a sweaty graphic.

0930: Strewth, international rugby league? TGG (The Greatest Game)? Where do I sign up?

Rugby League World Cup : Group A Table
09 November 2008 10:42
  Team P PD PTS
1 Australia 3 112 6
2 New Zealand 3 30 4
3 England 3 -50 2
4 Papua New Guinea 3 -92 0

Rugby League World Cup : Group B Table
05 November 2008 12:59
  Team P PD PTS
1 Fiji 2 34 2
2 Scotland 2 -16 2
3 France 2 -18 2

Rugby League World Cup : Group C Table
05 November 2008 09:52
  Team P PD PTS
1 Ireland 2 16 2
2 Tonga 2 -6 2
3 Samoa 2 -10 2

see also
World Cup pictures
25 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup squads
14 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup 2008 fixtures
08 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup Quiz
17 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
World Cup 2008 - players to watch
14 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup history
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Rugby League World Cup on the BBC
06 Oct 08 |  Rugby League

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