Posted By Staff Reporter
THE scoreboard told one story but Darren Lockyer's ribs told another.
So did Brent Tate's sore head. Even Petero Civoniceva suffered the all-too-rare embarrassment of being dumped on his backside.
Papua New Guinea couldn't pull off a miracle victory against Australia in their Four Nations opener at Parramatta Stadium yesterday, but the country's rag-tag bunch of cocoa exporters, meat workers and semi-professional footballers left an impression on their more esteemed opponents.
At one point midway through the match, the Kumuls kept the world's best team scoreless for 30 minutes. The PNG players absorbed everything Australia threw at them, stood their ground and gave it back.
David didn't beat Goliath, but he left the giant nursing some nasty bruises. Leading the way was centre Menzie Yere, known as "cannonball" or the "jukebox" -- he pulls off plenty of hits -- to his friends. Yere set the tone for the afternoon in the 10th minute when he knocked the wind out of Lockyer with a rib-busting tackle. Lockyer, who missed the latter stages of the NRL season with a rib injury, stayed down as he struggled to fill his lungs with air.
"I gave him something special," said Yere, who plays in the second tier of English football with Sheffield Eagles.
"That's what the coach told me to do. He said to get in there and (test) his ribs. I got him. That's what I love to do."
Lockyer said: "I have only played Papua New Guinea a handful of times and they are always physical -- today was no different."
His players did coach Stanley Gene proud. Even more importantly, they did their country proud.
"There would be loads more ice in that dressing room than with our boys," Gene said.
"There were some big, tough shots there -- some of these big tough NRL players have not been put that much on their back (before). These young kids did.
"I am so proud of them."