We’ve Been Everyone’s Second Favourite Team, Insists John Kear As Winless Wales Bow Out

Jimmy Ngutlik of Papua New Guinea runs in to score their sides third try against Wales. Pic: Getty Images.

We’ve Been Everyone’s Second Favourite Team, Insists John Kear As Winless Wales Bow Out

By David Williams

Head coach John Kear remained proud of Wales’ efforts at the Rugby League World Cup despite a third straight defeat at the hands of Papua New Guinea in Doncaster which ended the Dragons’ interest in the tournament.

The impressive Kumuls had too much for Kear’s side, particularly in the first 40 where they ran in four tries in dominant fashion, securing a 36-0 win to qualify for the last eight, finishing second in Group D.

Kear’s side had already gone toe-to-toe with both Cook Islands and Tonga in their first two matches and although he felt Wales were not at their best in the first half, he remained full of pride as their World Cup journey came to an end.

“The first 40 minutes of tonight was difficult,” he said. “But even then, they worked so hard for each other.

“Our kicking game was indifferent, particularly in the first half. We didn’t give ourselves a chance because we didn’t do the basics well.

“After that we did the basics a lot better and were really competitive. Across the three games, most people expected us to be well-beaten every time and that certainly hasn’t happened.

“That second half was much better, it was more like us.

“Over the whole tournament I’m really pleased. Because we’ve had three very difficult teams and have given a good account of ourselves in two-and-a-half games.

Wales head coach John Kear. Pic: Getty Images.

“I’m immensely proud of them (the Wales players) and I think we’ve become everyone’s second favourite team.

“All of these lads have conducted themselves so well and been sensational on the rugby league field. You can’t ask for much more.”

His opposite number Stanley Tepend said after that his side didn’t underestimate the challenge posed by Wales and revealed he was pleased to get control of the game so early.

Tepend’s team will now face host nation England in a mouth-watering quarter final in Wigan this Saturday.

The Papua New Guinea coach was particularly pleased to prevent Wales from scoring despite having to do plenty of defending after the interval.

“We wanted to concentrate on getting this win tonight and hardly spoke about anything ahead of this,” he said. “Our defence in that second half was at a really good level.

“It shows how tight the boys are off the field.


“They are bonding really well, we had eight days out in Papua New Guinea before this and I think it made a difference. Some of those guys hadn’t been back since they were children.

“The performance tonight resembles how they are off the field.”

Tepend also stated that the performance against Wales was further evidence of how they have improved since the last tournament.


“I think we’ve learnt since 2017,” he added. “Back then the guys were a lot younger. In their respective clubs a lot have had good individual seasons.

“It has been easy to bring them together in a squad environment, back in 2017 we were more reliant on individuals, this is more of a team.”

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