Papua New Guinea’s men had a shock against England in Wigan, but no-one expected the Orchids women’s team to do anything other than march over newcomers Brazil in the first game of the Hull double header - despite having no World Cup win to their credit before this tournament.
It was the women from PNG who had been the newcomers in the last World Cup, back in 2017, but their 34-12 win of Canada - semi finalists in ’17 tournament - in the last round.
After a baptism of fire against England in the first round, the Amazonas made a number of changes, bringing in new players to the match day 17 and moved others around, particularly looking at strengthening their edge defence.
The Orchids started the game with a short kick-off, giving themselves the first possession and looked set to score under the posts before spilling the ball in the final pass under the posts, with the Amazonas full-back looking ready to deal with the attack anyway.
But PNG scored in their next set after Brazil lost the ball bringing it out, moving the ball to the left where Belinda Gwasuman powered into space to score. Lilah Malabag couldn’t convert from the touchline, but her team led 4-0.
Tara Moxon, from Leeds Rhinos, was the next to score for the Orchids on the opposite right wing when the ball reached her in space after her centre attracted the Brazilian defence. Again their was no conversion and the Orchids led 8-0 with 12 minutes gone.
For minutes later Anika Butler, intercepted a scrappy Brazilian pass on the Amazonas’ 20m line and ran in for a try in the corner. Malabag managed a better touchline line kick, but again couldn’t get it between the posts.
Papua New Guinea were ending it easy to score against a Brazil team clearly still getting to grips with game, and clearly still showing weaknesses out wide. The South Americans middle defence was making its presence felt in the centre of the field though, as it had done against England.
As the half passed it’s 20 minute mark, the Brazilians settled more into the game and showed more effective scrambling defence to deal with the Orchids touchline threats, only for Gwasumun to break through the centre defence and race away to score under the posts. Malabag made no mistake from in front of the posts and PNG now led 18-0.
With the rain pouring down steadily, ball retention was proving difficult for both teams but Brazil were least effective at taking advantage spilled balls, although their forward pack defence was still looking promising - even if other parts of their game were less so.
The team, though, looked to be growing in confidence. By the time half time came, Brazil had still kept PNG’s score to 18 - in most games a far from insurmountable lead.
PNG had first use of the ball in second half and came out showing real intent, and it took just three minutes for captain Elsie Albert to charge in from 10m out and score the first try of the half. Malabag’s kick from just to the left of the posts made the score 24-0 to PNG.
Jessikah Reeves scored next after a terrific line break, running clear to score to the right of the posts. Malabag converted and the score had hit 30
As the clock hit 48 minutes, half-back Sera Keroi sold an outrageous dummy and ran 30m for the Orchids, next try. Malabag converted for a 36-8 and PNG had doubled their first-half total in the space of five minutes.
That hit 40 points when PNG’s cross field kick found space in front of three Orchids players, with not a Brazilian defender in sight and Gwasamun scooped it up for her hat-trick score. Malabag missed the conversion.
The floodgates were open and and Moxon got her second try on 54 minutes, thanks to an unselfish pass from centre De La Cruz. Again the touchline position defeated Malabag’s conversion attempt but at 44-0, the Orchids had booked their semi-final spot, bar the unlikeliest of miracles for a Brazilian team down to 15 fit players after two failed head injury assessments, one by iconic hooker Giovanna Barthe.
Brazil were being starved of the ball and their defence was tiring as Gwasamun broke through from her own half on the right to notch up her fourth try. Malabag’s kick brought up the 50 for Papua New Guinea.
Shirly Joe made that 54 for the Orchids, dashing through a gap after some intricate passing on the Brazilian line. Again there was no conversion. Martha Molowia was next to add points, again without a conversion to make the lead 60-0
Malabag then kicked through with less than 10 minutes to go, classed her own kick and grounded it just before the deaball line. She converted her own try for a team score of 66-0 and a personal score of 18.
Therese Aiton made the score 70 with 76 minutes on the clock, diving over from the ruck.
The Orchids had stepped up in the second half and ran away with the game for a score that didn’t look likely at half time.
Now they meet in England in the final group game before a game against New Zealand or Australia in the semis.
Papua New Guinea Orchids: Moxon (2T); Butler (T), Gwasamun (4T), De La Cruz, Koroi (T_; Malabag (T 4G), Albert; Aiton (T), Kaupa, Banu, Reeves (T), Ravu, Awoi. Subs: Molowia (T) , Waula, Kunjil, Humeu; Joe. (TP
Brazil: Felix, Medeiros, Soares, Moura, Amaral; Bodeman, Casemiro; Oliveira Welter, Barth, Barros, Prioste, Loschi de Quadros. Subs: Momberg, Santa Rita, Silva, Trindade, Santini.
Full Time: 70-0
Half Time: 18-0
Score Progression: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 16-0, 18-0. HT. 22-0, 24-0, 28-0, 30-0,n 34-0, 36-0, 40-0, 44-0, 48-0, 50-0, 54-0, 56-0, 60-0, 66-0, 70-0.
Venue: MKM Stadium, Hull.
Referee: Benjamin Casty.