It was a torrid Opening weekend for the home Nations teams in the 2017 Rugby League world cup, with only Ireland recorded a deserved 36-12 victory over Italy in Cairns.
A 1st half brace from Toronto wing man Liam Kay and Warrington forward George King sent the Wolfhounds in 20-6 up at the break with further tries to St Helens duo Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrick and Kyle Amour, along with a try for centre Michael Morgan accompanied by 6 Liam fin goals. Italy’s points came from Italian centres Castellaro and Milone, either side of the break both converted by former Hull KR winger Mantellato.
Welsh hopes of progressing to the knock out stages were dealt a massive blow, losing 50-6 in front of a packed stadium against a rampant Papua New Guinea (PNG) side in Port Moseby. PNG dominated from the start and raced into an early lead with two tries from Captain and Brisbane Bronco’s star Davis Mead, further tries from Nene McDonald, Kato Ottio and Albert plus Rhyse Martin’s solitary conversation gave the Kumals a 26-0 half time lead!
The second period didn’t go any better for the Welsh has Mead completed his hat trick, Martin notched up a double, while Minoga also crossed. Catalans Paul Aiton completed the rout with a rare try of his own.
Wales did manage to score a very late consolation try, when St Helens Flyer Regan Grace collected a pin point cross field kick, Courtney Davies converted from close to the touch line.
Scotland, who are currently ranked 4th in the world after last season very successful 4 Nations had possible the hardest opening game of all the tier 2 teams, taking on the competition’s dark horses Tonga! With the Scotland squad all decimated with withdrawal’s and Injuries they took on what was possibly the best all-star Tongan Line up ever, featuring a number of high profile players that have switched allegiances from Australia and New Zealand only weeks earlier.
Tonga hit the Scots from the start and eventually came out 50-4, ex Australian international Michael Jennings lead the way with an impressive hat trick, while 2016 Dally M medal winner & world player of the year nominee Jason Taumalolo was a danger every time he touched the ball, taking two players over the line to score his 1st half try. Roosters winger Daniel Tupou’s double along with Sika Manu, Ata Hingano and Peni Terepo all crossing to compete the thrashing.
Scotland’s make shift half back Danny Addy crossed for their solitary try mid way through the 2nd half on one of their rare visits into the Tongan danger zone!
Next up for Scotland is former world Champions New Zealand, while Ireland take on PNG and Wales play Fiji who also enjoyed a big opening round win seeing off the USA 58-12 in Townsville.