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Sam Burgess returned from a knee injury in England's quarter-final win over PNG.

The good, the bad and the ugly was how England coach Wayne Bennett described their Rugby League World Cup quarter-final win over Papua New Guinea.

Despite a 36-6 victory at AAMI Park to book a final four showdown with Tonga next Saturday night in Auckland, England's performance was far from convincing.

The northern hemisphere heavyweights crossed for seven tries but only managed to complete 25 of 45 sets - at just 56 per cent - in the face of some feisty defence from the Kumuls.

"That was the good, the bad and the ugly today," Bennett said.

"The good was the defence and some nice build-up with some of our plays.

"The bad was the lack of discipline with the footy and the ugly was just watching it, it was ugly to watch."

Winger Jermaine McGillvary scored two first half tries while centre Kallum Watkins also contributed a double.

The AAMI Park match could hardly have started worse for PNG, with their Brisbane Broncos fullback and captain David Mead knocked out in the opening set while trying to tackle halfback Luke Gale.

Scored six minutes apart, McGillvary's tries were strikingly similar with the athletic flanker reaping the rewards of a sweeping England backline move, although credit for the second must go Watkins who delivered a special backhand flick pass.

Bennett said he was concerned about their poor completion and 20 errors but felt it was just an off-day.

"Maybe we were just due for an below average performance," he said.

"We'll kiss this one off pretty quickly - we've done a lot of good things in this tournament so we won't be carrying it into Auckland."

The loss was the Kumuls' first of the tournament after three pool wins at home but coach Michael Marum said it was a big step up.

"Playing games here against a much stronger side like England, we kept missing tackles," Marum said.

"We didn't give up and played right through to the end and apart from losing today's match we will look back at our games and to get this far as a big achievement."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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