5 Nov 2022
Jeffries: Half-time earful inspired Orchids to semi-finals
Papua New Guinea beat Brazil 70-0 to secure their spot in the last four
By Josh Graham and Jack Lacey-Hatton at MKM Stadium
Papua New Guinea coach Ben Jeffries revealed a half-time rocket helped launch his side’s second-half onslaught in the 70-0 win over Brazil that booked their semi-final spot.
The Orchids were only 18-0 up at the break against the lowest ranked side in the competition but rallied to score 52 unanswered points in the second period, Belinda Gwasamun finishing with four tries to propel her country to the last four for the first time ever.
After overpowering the Amazonas, who were shorn of suspended skipper Maria Graf in Hull, Papua New Guinea will face Group A’s other unbeaten side, hosts England, in a battle for top spot.
Jeffries said: “We had a pretty firm talk at half-time. They knew it wasn’t up to standard. They were testing conditions, but we train in that.
“The message was to be very direct. We didn’t execute how we wanted to at the start of the game. To their credit, they put their heads down and executed quite well in the second half.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy and to keep it to zero was the main objective.”
On the day England’s men ruthlessly brushed aside Papua New Guinea in their quarter-final clash, Jeffries is hoping his side’s performance will supercharge their ranking back home.
Despite being the only country in the world to have rugby league as its national sport, the Orchids have faced discrimination and prejudice at home but Jeffries hopes the tide is turning after picking up the two wins they targeted coming into the tournament.
“Going two from two was the main objective and now we can move into the next stage,” said the former Bradford Bulls and Wakefield half-back.
“We talked about changing the face of rugby league in PNG with the first two results.
“If you understand how much adversity they went through in 2017 just to get onto the field and compete and they are still facing that at home.
“Hopefully, this changes it going forward.”
Meanwhile, Brazil coach Paul Grundy was left fuming as basic errors hindered his side in just their second-ever World Cup game.
Unlike in their first match against England, the Amazonas failed to trouble the scoreboard and struggled to keep the ball in hand in a tough opening 40.
The final scoreline was one-sided, but Grundy maintained that the performance in Hull was not a true reflection of his team and that they will improve in their final game against Canada on Wednesday.
“Everything we have talked about at training, the team did the opposite,” he said. “The game went terribly for us, as a team we have a lot more than that.
“I don’t think it’s as much about me being disappointed, they’ll be disappointed in themselves.
“Conditions weren’t great, but realistically I think it was more decisions than conditions.
“We took 20 minutes to play a decent set, which is disheartening for us as coaches, but the players will be beating themselves up about it as well.
“I honestly think points would have come for us had we have started the first 20 well, one try may have turned the tables so that is the regret.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets