Great Britain have lost three out of three on their tour of the southern hemisphere after going down to a 23-8 defeat against New Zealand.
Michael Maguire made two changes to his New Zealand squad that beat Great Britain in the first test last week. Shaun Johnson and Brandon Smith replaced Jahrome Hughes and Kenny Bromwich.
Great Britain coach Wayne Bennett made three changes to his side. Blake Austin, Jack Hughes and Luke Thompson came in for the Lions.
Zak Hardaker, Ryan Hall and Joe Philbin dropped out through injury.
Jamayne Isaako and Gareth Widdop exchanged penalty goals in the opening stages, while Joseph Manu scored the game’s first try in the 12th minute.
Isaako then added two more penalty goals for the Kiwis, while a trademark try from playmaker Johnson saw the hosts lead 16-2 at half-time.
Ken Maumalo put the game out of reach for the Lions in the 46th minute, while Josh Hodgson pulled one back for Great Britain midway through the second half.
Isaako added drop goal and penalty goal late in the game to wrap up a fine 23-8 victory for New Zealand.
Three talking points
Bennett got it wrong
The squad selection for the Great Britain Lions tour of New Zealand was wrong. It’s not a poor squad when you look at the names – but it’s just not balanced whatsoever.
There are six half-backs in Great Britain’s squad – Widdop, Austin, Jackson Hastings, George Williams, Jonny Lomax and Jake Trueman. Why are there six half-backs in a squad? Why?
While there were too many half-backs, there were not enough wingers, with Jermaine McGillvary and Hall being the only wingers selected. Hall has gone home through injury and half-back Austin was made to play on the wing. Lions coach Bennett got his squad selection wrong this time.
Great Britain need freshening up
Great Britain have now lost three games out of three on their tour of the southern hemisphere so far, and they just haven’t been good enough.
Widdop and Hastings have started every game of the tour in the halves, so one would suspect it to be changed for Papua New Guinea next weekend.
George Williams should be given a chance to shine on the international stage, along with Jake Trueman and Lachlan Coote.
Maguire rejuvenated New Zealand
The Kiwis are a force again, and it’s brilliant to see. Coach Maguire has done an excellent job in bringing back the Kiwi culture to New Zealand’s national side.
Playing international rugby league is the pinnacle for New Zealand players again and you can see just how much playing for their country means to the players.
Veteran half-back Benji Marshall has been absolutely sensational for New Zealand this autumn. The way he has changed his game is remarkable because he’s a general on the field now rather than the eager runner he used to be.
Line-ups and player ratings
New Zealand: Tuivasa-Sheck (7); Maumalo (8), Nicoll-Klokstad (7), Manu (8), Isaako (8); Johnson (8), Marshall (8); Tetevano (7), Smith (7), Waerea-Hargreaves (8), Nikora (7), Harawira-Naera (8), Tapine (7). Subs: Nikorima (7), Proctor (8), Ah Mau (8), Blair (7).
Tries: Manu, Johnson, Maumalo Goals: Isaako 5/6 Drop Goals: Isaako
Great Britain: Lomax (6); McGillvary (5), Hughes (5), Connor (4), Austin (4); Widdop (4), Hastings (5); Hill (5), Hodgson (5), T Burgess (4) Bateman (7), Whitehead (6), Graham (6). Subs: Jones (7), Clark (6), Walmsley (5), Thompson (6).
Tries: Hodgson Goals: Widdop 2/2
It has been a poor tour from Great Britain so far. The Lions are struggling with injuries and it doesn’t help because of the squad selection.
John Bateman has been by far GB’s standout player so far. The Canberra Raiders back-rower gives 110% effort in every single game he plays.
New Zealand should be applauded though. The Kiwis are back to their best and the link up play between Johnson and Marshall was delightful to watch.