Almanac Rugby League: Race for the Paul Barriere, Week 4 – Kiwis out, Women’s event kicks off



The Rugby League World Cup is underway in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with the former, represented by the Kangaroos, searching for an 11th title as they defend the Paul Barriere Trophy they won in 2013 at Old Trafford in Manchester. Australia, Tonga, Fiji and England made it through to the last four with New Zealand’s exit the major upset of the weekend. The last week has also seen the women’s event commence with pool games in Sydney.


After their 4-2 defeat (yes 4-2) the Kiwis leading players and coach David Kidwell seemed intent on downplaying their exit and/or shifting blame to a perceived lack of support from fans and the media. However their decision-making at key times left a lot to be desired as Mick Potter’s team won the first match played between the two sides. This was typified by a play in the final ten minutes when a Kiwis attacking phase saw a ball played to almost no-one before Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona was forced into a kick downfield (he actually did a reasonable job with the kick) but playmaker Shaun Johnson didn’t have the team set up correctly for that period of the set.


The Bati will face Australia on Friday night in Brisbane after the Kangaroos brushed aside Samoa 46-0 in Darwin on Friday evening. Mal Meninga’s team produced their most polished performance of the tournament and get an extra day between games compared to Fiji. Interestingly, Reagan Campbell-Gillard (who is tied to Fiji as a tier-two nation option) was one of Australia’s better players with 118 metres from his 10 runs off the bench. Campbell-Gillard would have been playing for Fiji at the tournament had Andrew Fifita not turned down his chance to play for Australia.


Despite a touch of controversy in Christchurch, Tonga qualified for their first semi-final at this level after defeating Lebanon 24-22. A 28-minute stint off the bench from Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Junior (12 runs, 125 metres) highlighted the depth which Kristian Woolf has been able to develop in his squad as they won their fourth consecutive game in this tournament, a feat their semi-final opponents England couldn’t match, having lost their opening game to Australia.


Melbourne hosted the fourth quarter final in which England confirmed their spot in the last four with a 36-6 victory over Papua New Guinea. The Kumuls lost a key attacking aspect to their game when David Mead went off injured within the first few minutes but England’s poor completion rate 57% (26/46) and ability to only score two tries in the first half hour meant PNG had a chance until England’s three tries in the last 12 minutes sealed the victory. Wayne Bennett’s side made 19 errors and if they produce a similar effort for the semi-final against Tonga, who only made eight errors on Saturday, it could be another upset in the knockout stages.


Defending champions Australia have gone 2-0 to open their campaign in the Women’s World Cup. The Jillaroos registered another win on Sunday (38-0 over England) following their 58-4 triumph over the Cook Islands on Thursday in Cronulla. England’s defeat came after they won 36-8 over Papua New Guinea on Thursday. The PNG Orchids were handed a second defeat when the Canada Ravens, highlighted by a Natasha Smith hatrick, beat PNG 22-8. New Zealand are the other unbeaten side following a 76-0 triumph over the Cook Islands. The Moana offered a cultural challenge to help open the tournament on Thursday before the Jillaroos won by 54 points. Wednesday will see the third and final round of pool games before the semi-finals on Sunday with Canada, a team who include six Canadian rugby union internationals (of which Smith is one), looking like the lesser-known side who could claim a final four spot.


This rugby league wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport


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About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.


  1. Glad you mentioned the women’s incarnation of this tournament kicking off – not enough said about it.

  2. No worries JB. Caught a bit of Cook Islands game v England today. What an upset for the Moana! Their coach Ian Bourke is assistant coach for the Roosters feeder side in the NSW Cup the Wyong Roos.

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