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Kearney delighted with NZ's RLWC win

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney was delighted with his side's 56-10 Rugby League World Cup victory over Papua New Guinea but admitted the loss of Thomas Leuluai with a recurrence of a groin injury took away some of the gloss.
Kearney delighted with NZ's RLWC win
by AAP

By Ian Laybourn

LEEDS, England, Nov 8 PA - New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney was delighted with his side's 56-10 Rugby League World Cup victory over Papua New Guinea but admitted the loss of Thomas Leuluai with a recurrence of a groin injury took away some of the gloss.

Leuluai missed the Kiwis' opening wins over Samoa and France after pulling a groin muscle in training on the eve of the tournament and lasted just two minutes of Friday night's match at Leeds.

Kearney said he had no regrets over taking a gamble on the fitness of the former Wigan half-back or hooker, who will remain on tour even if he plays no further part in the World Cup.

"Thomas trained well yesterday and got through the session," he said.

"We had to give him an opportunity tonight, I think the stakes are too high after this week.

"It doesn't look good for him and he's pretty disappointed. He had geared himself for a big tournament.

"It's a real shame for him. I know he would have added a great deal to the squad. I'm pretty keen to keep him here, he's a very valued member of the group."

Sonny Bill Williams scored a first-half hat-trick of tries as the holders cruised to a 40-0 halftime lead but the brave Kumuls at least stemmed the tide in the second half to bow out of the tournament with some pride.

"Sonny Bill had a lot of touches," Kearney said.

"He had a real dominant performance.

"I thought it was a pretty complete performance in that first half. We talked in the week about being focused and disciplined and we were certainly that.

"I made a few changes at halftime and that probably threw the mix of the group out a bit but overall I was pleased."

Kearney will also assess injuries to winger Manu Vatuvei (knee) and fullback Josh Hoffman (shoulder) and will anxiously await the outcome of a match-review panel after prop Ben Matulino was put on report for an alleged canonball tackle.

Papua New Guinea bow out of the tournament without a win but coach Adrian Lam was delighted with his side's response to their earlier defeats by France and Samoa.

The Kumuls lost the second half only 16-10 after scoring consolation tries through Dion Aiye and Wellington Albert.

"I was really proud of them in the first half as well, even though the scoreline was not good," Lam said.

"We only had the ball for nine minutes in the first half but we hung in there. It was a great test of character.

"We questioned their character and courage and asked them to stand up to get some of the respect we felt we lost."

Click Here for NZ v PNG Match Stats







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