The Prime Minister’s XIII have beaten Papua New Guinea 40-12 in a spirited rugby league clash in Port Moresby on Saturday.
The game was played in front of a packed crowd of more than 18,000 fans at the Sir John Guise Stadium in the island nation’s capital, with the visitors scoring seven tries to two with Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma crossing twice for Ivan Cleary’s side.
Nofoaluma opened the visitors’ account in the 10th minute with Canberra’s Jarrod Croker then posting a second try six minutes later.
PNG kept relative pace with the Australians, holding out two tries in the first half and staging several enterprising plays to break the Australian line.
The Kumuls’ persistence finally paid off in the 28th minute, with winger Justin Olam dashing down the sideline to score a four-pointer. with the successful conversion closing the gap to 14-6 at half time.
But within minutes Nofoaluma started as he began the first half, scoring his second try, before St George Illawarra’s Euan Aitken crashed over the line three minutes later to give the Australians a commanding lead.
A Mexican wave erupted around the ground less than 10 minutes later, with Watson Boas streaking away from the Australian defence for a home try in the corner.
Chris McQueen scored under the posts soon after before Jeremy Latimore and Jack Wighton scoring late tries to give the tourists a comfortable winning margin.
“I thought it was a great experience for all our boys,” said Cleary.
“Particularly a lot of the young guys. Whilst we had a lot of good field position, it was a pretty hostile defence and you could see the boys just having to work things out on the run.
“This was a great experience not only as footballers, but as people as well, to be able to come to a place like PNG. Everywhere we’ve gone all week, we’ve been lauded by the public and the locals and it has been a great experience for all the guys.”
Captain Trent Merrin, who’ll link up with Cleary at Penrith next season, said the opportunity to visit PNG and play in front of a respectful and appreciative crowd, was an incredible experience.
“Each player in the Aussie team is definitely going to take something out of this trip,” Merrin said.
“It’s very humbling to come here and get amongst it and see how the PNG fans appreciate rugby league.”