We UK Rugby League fans have waited a long, long time to finally see a full, live telecast of a game from PNG…and let me tell you it didn’t disappoint!
It wasn’t just the scintillating, adrenaline-pumping Kumuls performance we enjoyed, it was the colour and excitement of the whole occasion.
Make no mistake, to witness a Kumuls game in Port Moresby has just jumped to the top of a few sporting ‘bucket-lists’, including my own!
As the clock counted down on the big-screen, you could just feel the collective air of fervour and, for the next 80 minutes, the Port Moresby crowd generated one of the most exhilarating atmospheres I’ve ever heard at a sporting occasion!
The way you guys cheer and scream at every Kumuls carry and collision is amazing, whilst the crescendo of noise which greeted every PNG try was enough to give a dead dog goosebumps!
It’s was evident from the moment the Kumuls let rip in those early exchanges, that there was only going to be one (very convincing) winner. To be frank, the Welsh looked like ‘trapped rabbits in the headlights’ and any game-plan they may have harboured quickly went out the window once they felt the full ferocity of those bone-crunching early collisions.
And yet amid all the devout, tribalistic support of those heroes in yellow, how magnificent it was to see the whole crowd rise as one to applaud off the field the stricken young Welshman, Chester Butler, after he was badly-concussed trying to tackle a steamroller called Enoch Maki!
None of this was in the script for the (thankfully) ever-dwindling band of UK dinosaurs, stuck in a 1980’s time warp, who were oblivious to the giant steps PNG has made. Some were still expecting to tune in and witness riots, tear-gas and ‘tree-men’ within a ramshackle stadium!
Let me tell you, the whole occasion and the manner of the Kumuls win has definitely got RL fans talking in the UK, with bookmakers slashing the Kumuls odds to now pair them alongside Fiji as the fifth most likely team to win this World Cup behind the traditional ‘big three’ and Tonga.
And a message for those of you who still fret about the Kumuls lowly position in those ludicrous World Rankings which nobody outside of PNG take any notice of; You should realise the bookmakers odds represent a much more accurate reflection of where the Kumuls realistically sit in the World pecking-order – that’s somewhere between fifth and seventh!
So, all in all, a magnificent weekend for PNG. The Rugby League world has now seen for itself that the country has moved on…and so has its team!