Great Britain Rugby League Lions

By John Davidson,

Great Britain have slumped to a new low, going down 28-10 to Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

After three losses to Tonga and New Zealand the Lions were desperate to register their first win in their final game. And they started off well, getting off to a 10-0 lead in the first half.

But the Kumuls’ impressively rallied to score 28 points and sensationally stun Great Britain, ensuring their first tour in 12 years ended in embarrassing fashion.

Calls for coach Wayne Bennett to be replaced will increase as England coach after four defeats in a diabolical southern hemisphere tour.

It was a bad start for Great Britain in the first tackle of the game as James Graham was forced off with a head knock.

The Lions almost took the lead in the 10th minute, but good defence drove Blake Austin into touch.

But Austin would not be denied and four minutes later the Warrington five-eighth was in for his first try for Great Britain.

The Lions attacked to the left, a cut-out pass from Gareth Widdop found Jake Connor and he put Austin into space. Widdop was unable to convert from the sideline.

Great Britain struck again in the 21st minute through Josh Hodgson. After a strong carry from Luke Thompson, Hodgson dummied and darted his way over.

Widdop added the extras to make it 10-0.

But the Kumuls kept at it and were almost rewarded in the 29th minute. Edene Gebbie barged over in the corner and looked to have scorer, but the video referee revealed he was just in touch.

The hosts kept the pressure up but the Lions defence was up to it. Finally they broke through right on half-time.

A sensational line-break and run from Edwin Ipape, beating two defenders, from deep got them back in the game. Kyle Laybutt converted it to make the score 10-6 at the break.

It proved to be a telling moment as Papua New Guinea fought back to dominate the second half.

In the 47th minute Watson Boas touched down Gebbie’s pin-point kick. Rhyse Martin slotted the conversion to give them a 12-10 lead.

With the atmosphere electric, the Kumuls pushed on and were never headed.

On 53 minutes Wartovo Puara’s low kick ricocheted off a defender and fell into the path of Justin Olam for a try. Martin made no mistake with the conversion.

The Lions were out on their feet and another try in the offing came soon. A kick in behind caused chaos and Alex Johnston swooped to score.

Port Moresby was rocking and the Kumuls were not done yet. Jonny Lomax dropped the ball cold and Nixon Putt pounced to seal the result.

With 12 minutes left Great Britain were beaten and bowed. Papua New Guinea had recorded one of their best results in their history, a proud moment for the proud rugby league nation.