England 36-10 Papua New Guinea
England ease past PNG
Harlequins centre Tony Clubb scored four tries on his full debut as England ended their Four Nations campaign with a 36-10 win over Papua New Guinea.
England cruised into a 30-0 lead before a succession of injuries took their toll on a sunny evening at Eden Park, reducing coach Steve McNamara to the use of just one replacement for the entire second half.
The loss of impressive duo Luke Robinson and Sam Burgess were particularly damaging blows for McNamara, who would have been delighted with the impact made by hooker James Roby and second-rower Gareth Ellis.
As a disrupted England lost their rhythm in a disjointed second half, English-based players Makali Aizue and Menzie Yere grabbed consolation tries for Papua New Guinea, who celebrated as if the victory was theirs.
The Kumuls, who had conceded 118 points in their matches against Australia and New Zealand, arrived only 40 minutes before kick-off but quickly made their intentions clear as they ripped into England with some ferocious hits.
Referee Shane Rehm was forced to warn Papua New Guinea captain Paul Aiton over his side's rough-house tactics and the game eventually settled down in England's favour.
England's intentions were equally clear from the start as they attempted to catch the Kumuls out on the flanks but misdirected passes from Ben Westwood and Sean O'Loughlin made for a frustrating start and it took them 15 minutes to open their account.
They ran a penalty from in front of the posts after Burgess had been the victim of a high tackle from Nickson Loko and scrum-half Robinson took a pass from Roby to jink his way through for the game's first try.
England doubled their tally from the kick-off, with skipper James Graham getting Tom Briscoe into space and Clubb finishing off the 90-metre move for his first touchdown.
Ben Westwood kicked a first conversion and then Clubb, making his full debut, took Robinson's pass to use his 16st frame to force his way over for his second try.
The Pacific Islanders failed to build any pressure due to a chronic inability to play out their sets, although the introduction of the diminutive Benjamin John pepped up their attack.
It was largely one-way traffic, though, as the lively Robinson increased England's lead with a solo try four minutes before half-time, with substitute Gareth Widdop kicking the conversion, and there was just enough time for Clubb to complete his hat-trick after taking O'Loughlin's accurate pass.
England lost Burgess with a rib injury just before the interval and, with stand-off Kevin Brown going off after 26 minutes after taking a heavy blow to the head, the tourists were running out of troops when Robinson was forced off with an elbow injury four minutes into the second half.
The enforced changes clearly hampered England but they went further in front on 54 minutes when a weaving run from Briscoe created the space for Sam Tomkins to get substitute Ben Harrison over for his first try for his country and Westwood kicked his second goal.
The growing Eden Park crowd tried to get behind the outclassed Kumuls and the biggest cheer of the match came on 58 minutes when prop forward Aizue, the senior member of the side, crashed through the attempted tackles of Harrison and Widdop for a popular try.
Scrum-half Dion Aiye added the goal and, their confidence suddenly on the up, Papua New Guinea scored arguably the best try of the match with stand-off Glen Nami re-gathering his own kick and Aiton getting strong-running centre Yere charging over.
It was England who were to have the final say, however, as Clubb grabbed his fourth try four minutes from the end, with Westwood kicking a fourth goal.