Rugby League World Cup: Papua New Guinea signal intentions with victory against Scotland
Last Updated: 21/10/13 9:09am
Papua New Guinea served a warning to France, just eight days ahead of their World Cup opener, with a 38-20 victory over Scotland at Featherstone on Saturday.
After suffering early blows from Scotland - the Bravehearts well-orchestrated by Man of Steel Danny Brough - the Kumuls found some rhythm and rarely looked back after going in front for the first time midway through the first half.
Brough played for just over 30 minutes before giving way to a series of experimental half-back partnerships - he and the travelling Peter Wallace will be Scotland's first-choice duo - but without him, Steve McCormack's men looked a little lost.
Just 75 seconds had elapsed when Brough - born just 12 miles away in Dewsbury - floated a pass out to the right, where Workington's Brett Carter was on hand to dot down, although the conversion from Brough fell short.
That meant that when the Kumuls scored with seven minutes gone they were able to take the lead.
Enoch Maki - primed for a move to Hull KR - powered on to a ball from Paul Aiton and scored next to the posts, with David Mead adding a simple conversion.
The pacific islanders played with a little more freedom from thereon in - perhaps too much for Dale Ferguson who wiped out Josiah Abavu as he embarked on a showy run - before some clever Scottish play but them back in front.
Brough was at the heart of it, taking a pass down by his ankles before stabbing an angled, low kick through which reared up perfectly for Ben Hellewell - the second-rower a popular scorer on his home ground. Brough was on target with the goal.
Back came Papa New Guinea and, after his earlier run was halted, Abavu went on another defence-splitting run which this time ended with a punt ahead which was grounded by Nene McDonald.
Brough then left the field, but one of his first duties on the bench was to watch as Wellington Albert took in a fine pass from Jesse Joe Nandye next to the posts, although Mead missed the conversion when the half-time hooter was sounded mid-kick and forced him to drag it.
The Kumuls maintained their momentum into the second half and scored within a minute of the restart as Richard Kambo took in Nandye's pass, with Mead on the spot to upgrade it before getting a score of his own with a snaking run from dummy-half.
Bradford's Danny Addy reached out and dotted down on the hour to bring Scotland back in it, with the same man's conversion making it 26-16 with a quarter of the game left. And, when new Wigan recruit Alex Hurst raced in at the corner, it was very much game on.
But Scotland's intent in attack left them open in defence and Roger Laka killed things off with 10 minutes left, before a length-of-the-field McDonald intercept gave the scoreline a more credible look.
Even then there was time for more brilliance from Adrian Lam's men, with Abavu kicked over opposite number Carter and collecting for a fine solo score which earned a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,412. Mead failed with all three conversions, but it mattered little.