Martin leads PNG to win over Cook Islands

Man of the match, PNG captain Rhyse Martin. Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images for RLWC

Papua New Guinea captain Rhyse Martin missed the chance to take the world record for consecutive conversions but still played a key role in keeping his country's Rugby League World Cup hopes alive with a 32-16 win over the Cook Islands.

The Kumuls skipper scored a try and kicked four goals in front of 6273 fans at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington as PNG bounced back from last week's narrow loss to Tonga.

The victory means PNG must beat winless Wales to set up a likely quarter-final clash with hosts England.

In a standout performance, Martin's first conversion attempt denied him a place in the record books with 42 back-to-back successful goals when he failed to convert a Rodrick Tai try in the 14th minute.

"Things happen for a reason and I have to start again now," said Martin, whose streak went all the way back to July with club side Leeds.

"I'm happy we got the win tonight and hopefully I can break (the record) next year.

"I felt we got distracted a little bit in the first half but defensively we were solid.

"We've been working hard. We got to a quarter-final at the last World Cup and want to go one better."

Centre Justin Olam was taken off in the second half after scoring a late try but coach Stanley Tepend said it was due to cramp.

Tai scored the opener when he went 80 metres off a 20-metre tap but his finish in the corner meant Martin was unable to add the extras.

He was followed over the line by playmaker Kyle Laybutt.

Despite a late try in the first half to Paul Ulberg, the Cook Islands could not keep pace with the Kumuls who broke away after halftime with tries to Martin, Lachlan Lam, Tai and Olam.

Anthony Gelling and Kayal Iro scored late but they were left to rue Reubenn Rennie's sin-binning for a tiptackle.

The Cook Islands must now upset group D heavyweights Tonga if they are to advance to the knockout stages.

"We tried hard but we probably lacked intensity in the first 10 minutes," head coach Tony Iro said.

"We've got another game and that's all we can focus on. I know the boys are keen to play another island nation and we've got something to prove."