Papua New Guinea
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NRL stars put extra effort to defeat PNG Prime Minister’s XIII

The Australian Prime Minister’s XIII men’s team had to dig deep in their play book to pull off the 30-18 win after a gutsy performance against the PNG side at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday.

Defensively the Justin Holbrook PNG mentored side came out firing with the backing of the full capacity home crowd which saw the visitor’s being contained in the opening minutes of the first stanza.

The NRL stars in the Australian side also receive bilums from their die-hard fans after the fulltime hooter was signaled which saw the security personals including the police being outnumbered by the invading rugby league supporters.

Leeds Rhinos and PNG international, Nene MacDonald scored the opening four pointer of the match after a high crosskick by halfback Kyle Laybutt was spilled over in the aerial contest by Cody Walker and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow resulting in MacDonald just placing his hand over the ball to score the try.

Zac Laybutt successfully added the extras as they took an early lead.

With the hot and humid weather conditions taking its toll on both team’s general play, barn storming hit-ups and strong defensive tackles resulted in ball handling errors, as well as igniting the parochial rugby league crowd to cheer at the top of their voices.

It took over 20 minutes for the Australians to score their opening four pointer courtesy of North Queensland Cowboys and QLD Maroons winger Murray Taulagi.

The inclusion of Tom Deardon and Ben Hunt coming off the bench triggered quick dummy half runs forcing the home side to back paddle.

A repeated set of six to the Australians within the last six minutes of the first half saw them add more defensive pressure on PNG and Deardon earning himself a try assist with an inside pass to Hudson Young as he bulldozed his way past a flat-footed defense to score their second four pointer.

Zac Lomax was again consistent with his kicking duties with two successful conversions as they led 12-6 into halftime.

The restart of the second stanza saw the home side again muscling up defensively and maintaining their first half composure.

With Judah Rimbu taking control at dummy half, the outside backs led by the likes of Treigh Stewart, Nene MacDonald, Robert Derby, Benjamin Kot and Laybutt had to work over time to gain much needed yardage upon the return kick.

The backline’s effort, including the forward pack’s ruthless hit-ups, saw Cruise Ten barging his way over to score the second try in which Laybutt successfully converted.

The visitor’s regrouped and started to direct their attacking momentum through the middle and with the quality of NRL stars like Ben Hunt, Nicho Hynes, skipper Cameron Murray, Daly Cherry-Evans, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui stepping up to the occasion, their three tries were well executed, including a scrummage trick play which led to Alofiana Pereira’s try.

A try by PNG Hunters prop Epel Kapinias also gave PNG PM’s XIII confidence boost for a late comeback, however, time was not in their favour.

The aftermath of the match saw rugby league fans invading the pitch to get a selfie and meet their NRL stars.

Security personnel and police were on high alert to contain the situation.