A quarter final against England on Saturday afternoon was up for grabs as Papua New Guinea took on a brave Wales side who had so far failed to record a win despite a couple of determined outings in the group of death.
It was the final game of the group stages and PNG went into it as the clear favourites to take the two points and finish second in the group. But John Kear´s determined Welshmen knew that a win by twenty-two points or more would take them through.
All the Kumuls needed to do was lose by less than that twenty-two and with the bookies giving Wales a twenty-eight point start on the coupon, few thought that Wales were in with any chance.
Driving rain welcomed the two sides to the field and the Kumuls were immediately on the front foot and taking the game to Wales.
But it took seven minutes for PNG to take the lead with Kyle Laybutt running the diagonal after taking the ball at first receiver and going in from ten metres out after throwing the dummy. Rhyse Martin added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
A double-whammy broke Welsh hearts when PNG were over again on eleven with Nixon Putt taking the pass and crashing over the top of a weak tackle. Martin added the conversion for 12-0, the Kumuls already with one foot in the quarters.
A sensational third try from Jimmy Ngutlik, taking the ball on his own thirty and then accelerating downfield and outpacing the chasing Welshmen to score under the sticks. Martin was again on target for 18-0.
On twenty-nine they were in again, the tackled Daniel Russell reaching for the line and grounding one-handed. Martin converted again for 24-0, Wales not getting any chance with the ball.
Back-to-back penalties for Wales gave them some relief just before the interval but a wide ball saw Kyle Evans hit hard and into touch by Ngutlik.
PNG laid siege to the Welsh line at the start of the second half and after they forced a drop-out on forty-five Lachlan Lam went close on the fourth tackle but a quick play the ball saw Putt go in after taking the ball at first receiver and crashing over the top of the tacklers to ground. Martin added the conversion for 30-0.
It was a much better second half for Wales as they frustrated PNG, the conditions not helping either side. Russell was held up over the line on seventy-three, Wales best chance of scoring. On seventy-five Kyle Evans also tested the line but spilled the ball a metre out under the tackle.
Three minutes from time PNG got their sixth try of the night when Evans failed to collect a wicked spiralling high kick, Ngutlik on hand to collect the ball and score to further add to Wales misery. Martin added the conversion for a final score of 36-0.
Papua New Guinea made it into the quarter finals with room to spare against a disappointing Wales side who simply couldn´t get enough of the ball to make any headway. Shaun Wane will have put a worried glance in the direction of the side that England now play on Saturday afternoon, and he will need to put out his best side to ensure progress into the semi-finals.
Papua New Guinea: Johnston, Tai, MacDonald, Olam, Ngutlik (2T), Laybutt (T), Lam, Albert, Ipape, Waine, Putt (2T), Martin (6G), Alick. Subs: Tenza, Russell (T), Tanabi, Simbiken.
Wales: Aekins, Evans K, Evans W, Kear, Williams, Olds, Ralph, Ealker, Fozard, Bennion, Lloyd, Antrobus, Burke. Subs: Fleming, Butler, Curtis Davies, Connor Davies.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0, 22-0, 24-0 : HT : 28-0, 30-0, 34-0, 36-0 : FT .
Lead Exchanges: Papua New Guinea.
Referee: Gerard Sutton.
Attendance: 6,968 at the Eco-Power Stadium, Doncaster.