Martha Molowia lit up Headingley Stadium to help Papua New Guinea get past a battling Canada 34-12 in their opening game at the Rugby League World Cup.
The player of the match scored two superb tries either side of half-time, setting her team on their way to a first ever win at the finals.
It gave the Orchids revenge for their defeat at the 2017 tournament to Canada and saw them move second in Group A behind England, who beat Brazil in the first of Tuesday’s double header, with an impressive display in Leeds.
Canada had won three out of their last four internationals coming into the tournament and did briefly threaten a fightback midway through the second half, but struggled to live with the power of Papua New Guinea who grew in confidence as the game went on.
In a physical contest players often struggled final pass in the opening 40, with points at a premium but after the break Papua New Guinea started to punch holes in the Ravens defence and were rewarded with five second-half tries.
Both teams were let down by handling errors early on a greasy surface with rain falling throughout the first half.
Papua New Guinea had to wait till the 15th minute for their first big chance but Belinda Gwasamun mishandled a simple pass when well placed on the right wing.
It was up to her fellow centre Shellie Long to open the scoring for the Orchids, crashing over from close-range for her first World Cup try.
But the Ravens hit back just six minutes later. An intelligent kick from Dani Franada forced an error from Lisa-Marie Alu, the winger allowing the ball to slip under her legs to give utility player Petra Woods an easy score.
Franada added the extras with a superb conversion from near the touchline to put the Ravens in front for the first time.
However, a stunning finish in the corner from star player Molowia, who somehow gathered Gwasamun’s pass, spun past the Canadian defenders and managed to ground the ball gave her side a narrow 8-6 lead at half-time.
And the flying full-back picked up right where she had left off after the break, cutting through the Canadian defence with a searing run to score her second.
Lock Ua Ravu then gave Papua New Guinea breathing space, although Canada hit back when Megan Pakulis caught the Orchids defence napping to dot down under the posts.
But Essay Ranu produced a superb score, the second-row crashing through off the short ball to quell the Canadian fightback.
The Orchids made it seven tries on the night after Gwasamun barged over, followed by a score from Anika Butler in the closing minutes to seal a statement win ahead of their clash with Brazil on Saturday.
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