New Zealand 23-8 Great Britain Rugby League Lions: Kiwis inflict third tour defeat


Shaun Johnson was again the scourge of a northern hemisphere side with his efforts
Second Test
New Zealand (16) 23
Tries: Manu, Johnson, Maumalo Goals: Isaako 5 Drop-goal: Isaako
Great Britain (2) 8
Try: Hodgson Goals: Widdop 2

Great Britain fell to their third straight tour defeat, losing 23-8 to New Zealand in the second Test between the sides at Christchurch.

After an early penalty apiece, Joseph Manu and Shaun Johnson tries plus Jamayne Isaako’s goals left the Lions staring at a 16-2 half-time deficit.

Ken Maumalo added to their angst after the break, before Josh Hodgson’s score gave the tourists some belief.

Isaako’s drop goal and penalty late on was a layer of gloss for the hosts.

The Lions’ return after 12 years away has turned out to be something of a damp squib, with this loss as disappointing as any of the three games so far in terms of both performance and result.

A tally of just three tries in the three Tests has highlighted a lack of penetration, which has proved costly despite some dogged defence throughout the series.

Other than a British rally on the Kiwis line in the final 20 minutes, it was an otherwise comfortable evening for the home side, who dominated up front and took advantage of the platform created by the craft of half-backs Benji Marshall and Johnson.

While Great Britain’s team selection was hampered by injury to Ryan Hall and Oliver Gildart, the lack of specialist three-quarter cover in coach Wayne Bennett’s initial squad selection was highlighted by the need to pick half-back Blake Austin out on the wing and back-row Jack Hughes at centre.

Austin, in particular, was given a tough examination by the Kiwis attack but other than an early spill and being dragged into touch on fielding a kick, he grafted hard and certainly could not be blamed for the outcome.

It is just a year since an England side containing many of the component parts of this team blew the Kiwis away at Anfield, but perhaps the absent strike power of injured St Helens winger Tommy Makinson was one of the core differences.

Errors cost the side dearly in attacking positions, and in defence the monstrous Kiwi pack – led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – just kept rolling them back.

All three of the Kiwis tries were beautifully created, Manu and Johnson showing neat footwork to coax open the space, while Maumalo’s spectacular dive on the back of slick hands brought up his score.

In reply, Hodgson profited from a clever offload from Josh Jones for his try, but it was a rare moment of joy for the tourists.

What next?

Great Britain now travel to Papua New Guinea for the final Test of the tour, in Port Moresby on Saturday, 16 November (07:30 GMT kick-off).

The match will be shown live on BBC Two and on the BBC Sport website and app, where you can also find live text commentary.


New Zealand: Tuivasa-Sheck; Maumalo, Nicoll-Klokstad, Manu, Isaako; Johnson, Marshall (capt); Tetevano, Smith, Waerea-Hargreaves, Nikora, Harawira-Naera, Tapine.

Interchanges: Nikorima, Proctor, Ah Mau, Blair.

Great Britain: Lomax; McGillvary, Hughes, Connor, Austin; Widdop, Hastings; Hill, Hodgson, Burgess, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham (capt).

Interchanges: Jones, Clark, Walmsley, Thompson.

Referee: Gerard Sutton


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