England through to semis after scrappy win

It wasn’t pretty, but it was still enough to book a semi-final meet with Tonga.

Despite this afternoon’s 36-6 win over the PNG LNG Kumuls, Wayne Bennett’s England only completed 25 of 45 sets.

The Kumuls were dealt a mighty blow 90 seconds into the match when captain David Mead came off second best after a try saving tackle on England’s Luke Gale.

After surviving early raids from the English, the Kumuls went on the counter-attack and came agonisingly close to drawing first blood after Kato Ottio dropped a bomb in the in-goal.

Repeat sets to England produced the first points with Jermaine McGillvary flying over on the wing.

McGillvary’s second was scored in similar fashion just six minutes later with a backline move that created an overlap from him to score.

It didn’t get any better for the Kumuls after Mead failed his head injury assessment, ruling him out for the remainder of the match.

England extended their lead when front rower Alex Walmsley barged his way over for a four pointer. Gareth Widdop nailed his first for the match, adding the extras to make it 14-0.

Despite their woeful completion rate and poor ball handling, the Lions continued to dominate in the second half with a try to Ben Currie in the 56th minute to put them in firm control of the match.

But the Kumuls did not go down without a fight.

Garry Lo gave the fans something to cheer about when he snuck through on the wing for PNG’s first points.

Rhyse Martin converted to give PNG a glimmer of hope with twenty minutes left.

However, the win was sealed with a double to centre Kallum Watkins and one to Ryan Hall in the final minute.

England now has a date with Tonga at Mt. Smart Stadium, New Zealand, on Saturday, November 25. The match will kick off at 6pm.

In the other semi-final, Australia will clash with Fiji at Brisbane Stadium, Australia, on Friday, November 24, at 7pm.

Photo credit: NRL Photos

Troy Taule