Tommy Makinson’s five tries capped off a brilliant all-around England display as Papua New Guinea were ruthlessly dispatched 46-6 in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals.
England coach Shaun Wane wanted this game iced as early as possible and his players clearly listened, scoring seven first-half tries as they turned on the champagne style for their watching royal fan, the Princess of Wales, and a record last-eight crowd of 23,179.
Either Tonga or Samoa now await in the semi-final in London next weekend, as they prepare to settle their Polynesian feud in Warrington on Sunday.
And if big tournaments are all about momentum, then the hosts are rocking and rolling towards the capital with their tails up.
Stanley Tepend named eight players in his matchday squad that starred in the Kumuls’ shock 28-10 victory over Great Britain in Port Moresby three years ago.
Although just four of England’s side had the scars from that bruising encounter, which left the Lions with four defeats from four in an ill-fated southern hemisphere adventure.
Different day, different team, different tournament, different ground and, most crucially, a very different result.
Outfought, outthought and outclassed, Wane’s rampaging team served a double helping of cold revenge on Papua New Guinea. Their pressure was as incessant as the drizzle and fans cracked out their first rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ long before the half-time hooter.
The England coach had predicted a fiery and physical encounter and the hosts seized the initiative from the start, Herbie Farnworth’s strength setting up a bulldozing Tom Burgess to open the scoring after just six minutes.
Captain Sam Tomkins, rested for the 94-4 win over Greece, weighted a perfect kick that Makinson – who also threaded five goals – chased down to score.
And then up stepped man of the moment Dom Young. He’s been England’s star in the group stages but could the NRL star do it on a wet weekend in Wigan? Absolutely.
He took his tournament tally to nine tries after another precision Tomkins kick had left the Kumuls defence flat-footed.
George Williams’s cheeky chip sent winger Makinson in for his second, England now scoring at a giddying point per minute.
Williams turned from creator to executer moments later, Victor Radley, John Bateman and Kallum Watkins combining before the Warrington halfback perfected a precision slide from ten yards out right under the sticks.
And still, England weren’t done, Watkins joining the scoring fun before Makinson completed his hat-trick in just 27 minutes.
Australia, win secured, got scrappy in the second half of their quarter-final win over Lebanon in Warrington but England stayed ruthlessly clinical after the break, even if they were starting to internally reset for future challenges.
Their tournament over, Papua New Guinea dealt out a few trademark big hits for the highlights reel but this had long turned into a salvage pride mission.
Makinson continued to find himself in all the right places, adding to his tally as Papua New Guinea repeatedly found themselves exposed on the left flank, although Jimmy Ngutlik scored late on to ensure there was no blow-out.
Five years ago these teams clashed at the same stage of the World Cup, with England winning comfortably if not fluently in Melbourne. This was a very different story and their self-belief is starting to become contagious.
And there was only one person to ice this cake, Makinson completing his five-star show five minutes from time – a 30 point contribution.