England vs Papua New Guinea Preview

This could be setup to be a real dog fight, the last time these two sides met in 2008, England ran out 32-22 victors, in a game that many still regard as poorly refereed. Papua New Guinea firmly believe that this is a game they can definitely win, England have not played their best Rugby League yet and this will be factored into the Kumuls positive attitude coming into this game.

A lot of people have tipped this game to be decided by no more than 10 points again, England currently the favourites to make the next round. I've got to say the general consensus of the English fans coming into this game is that there is a real chance Papua New Guinea could win this game, they have played very well through their first three games, PNG were run close by the Irish, but that is more to do with how well Ireland actually played in that particular fixture.

England have not made life easy for themselves, it was a positive start against Australia; good defence, promising attacks and plenty of metres made. From there we haven't really seen England perform, against France the English did what they had to do, moving to Widdop to fullback has given England extra depth in attack but has introduced potential vulnerability to our defensive game. It has been at least 5 years since Widdop played fullback, this has obviously made fans apprehensive towards Wayne Bennett's decision to move one of the most creative halves England has and use him as the last line of defence.

England: England recall; Ryan Hall, Josh Hodgson and Kallum Watkins to the squad and the long awaited return of talismanic forward Sam Burgess bolsters the English credentials as to why they could take a win from this game. England are going to have to try their best to slow the pace of the game, the Kumuls have had so much success through catching players napping in and around the ruck area, this defensive aspect to the game is going to be key as the PNG game plan is going to be similar to that of previous weeks.

The big men on the wings are going to have to come in and do the hard work again to the support the boys in the middle, Hall and Mcgilvary have been huge strike weapons coming out of England's own half and kick returns. The Kumuls are going to kick towards Widdop in an effort to stop these two man mountains building momentum. Intensity, England have to be careful if they are going to try and match the PNG intensity as this is going to lead to mistakes, the game has to be played at England's pace and England's pace alone in order to prevent sloppiness creeping into the game.

Papua New Guinea: The Kumuls have a real air of excitement surrounding them for this game, they have performed very well in all 3 of their opening games, their dynamic play style has made it very hard for teams to adapt when playing them. PNG rested a lot of their players last week in preparation for the quarterfinals, this is going to set them in good stead as they look to become the latest nation to cause a tournament upset.

James Segeyaro's recent performances have seen him steal the 9 jersey right off of Kurt Baptiste's back, he has been very sharp in the ruck area, constantly looking for spaces or defenders that have switched off. Most of this England team will be familiar with him after his brief stint with the Rhinos. Gary Lo is going to be a handful again this week, the Castleford Tigers latest recruit has been a sensation on the wing for the Kumuls so far, his tremendous speed and upper body strength are going to keep Jermaine Mcgilvary and Kallum Watkins on their toes for the full 80 minutes.

Conclusion: Both sides are going to flying out of the blocks upon hearing the whistle, it's important for England to maintain their composure and try to play the game on their terms. If not and they try to match PNG for pace and intensity, then this game is going to be going in the Kumuls favour at the end of the 80 minutes. This is going to be a 50/50 match up, both sides have different strengths and weaknesses, it's going to be a case of who can exploit who's. If I had to make an educated guess on who takes this, I'm going to have to say England by 6 to 14 points.



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