Papua New Guinea gave a rugby league lesson to Tonga with a 44-14 thrashing in their SP Brewery Pacific Cup rugby league game at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby yesterday.
The Kumuls will face the Cook Islands in next Sunday's Pacific Cup final and will be confident of winning through to next year's Four Nations in front of a vocal home crowd.
Led capably by their UK-based contingent of Menzie Yere, Jason Chan and John Wilshere, the Kumuls held a 20-4 halftime lead and racked up another 24 points after the break.
The sheer class of PNG showed all over the paddock through the UK trio, fullback David Mead, halves Dion Aye and Keith Peter, props Rodney Pora and James Nightingale, hooker Jay Aston, backrowers Chan and Siegfried Gande, and lock Jessie Joe Parker,
Tonga struggled to hold their defensive line in the Port Moresby heat and was unable to create any real penetration, despite the best efforts of captain Seleti Mateo.
The local boys, with a patriotic home crowd behind them, opened up their account just five minutes in the game when the stylish Yere, later named man-of-the-match, raced over for a centre try goaled by Wilshere for a 6-0 lead.
The Mate Ma’s replied with a 12th minute touchdown to centre Sione Tonga, the first of his hat-trick, but it was all one-way traffic after that as the Kumuls piled on tries through Chan (20min), centre Anton Kui (27min) and David Mead (39min).
The avalanche continued in the second half as PNG added further tries to replacement backliner Jessie Joe Parker (42min), Mead (50min), Yere (64min) and replacement backliner Charlie Wabo (67min), all goaled by Wilshere, for an unassailable 44-4 lead.
Wabo was a crowd pleaser when he entered the field and had the crowd cheering every time he had the ball.
The Kumuls looked set the pass the half-century, however, slowed down in the last 11 minutes to allow Tonga, one of the hardest tries for his country, to run in tries in the 69th and 78th minutes.
PNG 44 (Yere 2, Mead 2, Yere, Chan, Kui, Mead, Wabao tries; Wilshere 4 goals) bt Tonga 14 (Tonga 3 tries; Eddy Paea goal). Scrums: Tonga 7-5. Penalties: PNG 5-4.