Jamaica captain Ashton Golding praised his players for the way they approached a 68-6 defeat to New Zealand when Ben Jones-Bishop scored his 300th career appearance with his country’s first try in the World Cup finals.
The seasoned Sheffield Eagles full-back, who made a name for himself in the Super League with the Leeds Rhinos, crossed after the match to spark wild celebrations on the pitch and among the 6,829 spectators at MKM Stadium.
Jones-Bishop scored the first try of the Reggae Warriors competition, but it was New Zealand that took two points from a Pool C game at all, but they secured their spot in the quarter-finals.
Golding also praised his players for how they progressed to the end of what had been a difficult game.
Golding, who plays for Huddersfield in the Super League, said: “As a player I like to get into matches completely focused on ourselves. We have been proud of ourselves in areas, effort and attitude, you can’t beat it.
“Coming into the game it was all about us. What can we do on the pitch and what we can do off the pitch.
“We hope we can capture people’s imaginations, from one to 17 I am so proud of the kids. There were 17 leaders out there.
“Really happy with how we got to the end. We stopped and got something out of the game. “
Despite the heavy defeat, Golding was delighted to see winger Jones-Bishop make his country’s first try to debut in the World Cup Finals.
Golding said: “There can be no better person to score the goal and crown his 300th presence.”
Jamaica head coach Jermaine Coleman echoed Golding’s words about Jones-Bishop.
Coleman said, “There is no better person in our group to do that test. It’s a great time for him. We wanted it to be a special occasion for him. “
New Zealand winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored his team’s four tries when the Kiwis crossed 13 times in total, but didn’t let it go to the head.
He said of his performance: “It was a fun time out there. I haven’t played a game like that in a while. “
New Zealand had been far from better in their opening round win over Lebanon and coach Michael Maguire was delighted to see them improve their performance against Jamaica.
Maguire said: “We talked about our combinations from our last performance. We scored some really good goals. We got a lot out of it.
“It was more about playing the style we wanted and the points came from there.
“There were areas in the Lebanon game (to be improved). Scoring goals as we did showed that we were improving. I thought our defense was really strong at times ”.
New Zealand did not have Dylan Brown due to illness and Maguire was pleased with the way his team coped.
Maguire said: “The crew is pretty good at adapting to what is thrown at them. Kids do what they have to do for each other. “
Captain James Fisher-Harris added of his team’s victory: “It’s a special time with the guys showing up for me. All in all it was just a good performance by the guys. “