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Friday, November 5, 1999 Published at 10:35 GMT


Sport: Rugby League

GB have Long to thank

St Helens star Long (centre) scored a double

New Zealand Maoris 12-22 Great Britain

The tourists ended their trip down under with a face-saving victory, as Sean Long spared Britain's blushes with two tries.

The St Helens half-back was Super League's player of the year but failed to make the starting line-up for the recent defeats against Australia and New Zealand.

In the consolation game, a preview to the Tri-Nations final between the Southern Hemisphere giants, he showed what had been missing, although it was a close-run thing until his second score, six minutes from the end of the 70 minutes contest.

The win, against what was effectively a New Zealand third string, was not quite enough to salvage lost pride at the end of a desperately disappointing series.

But at least Britain managed to avoid the fate that befell the 1996 Lions, when the Maoris beat Britain 40-28.

Maoris take time to gel

Cameron Bell, the former Carlisle coach still in charge of the Maoris, assembled this side at six days' notice.

It showed as Britain raced into a 12-0 lead after just 12 minutes.

A 20-metre pass from skipper Andy Farrell, playing at stand-off, got left-winger Anthony Sullivan over for the first score and.

When loose forward Paul Sculthorpe broke clear to send Long over and Farrell added his second conversion, it looked plain sailing for Andy Goodway's men.

But the Maoris gradually began to put their game together, aided by some glaring misses by the visitors and a 9-2 first-half penalty count.

Tricky footwork from former Oldham and London Broncos stand-off Luke Goodwin and lively hooker Tukere Barlow gave the tourists all sorts of problems as James Lowes had a try disallowed for a double movement.

Second-rower Andy Hay dropped Farrell's pass with the tryline beckoning, and the missed opportunities began to look costly when impressive second row forward Darren Rameka scored for the Maoris.

Rameka brushed aside the challenge of Paul Anderson and skipped out of Kris Radlinski's tackle to score three minutes before the end of the first 35 minutes.

With scrum-half Willie Rangi having opened his side's account with a 20th-minute penalty, the Lions were suddenly only 12-6 ahead.

Advantage restored

Lowes burrowed his way over in trademark fashion from dummy half 11 minutes into the second half to restore Britain's advantage.

But a shock result looked a distinct possibility when Goodwin's accurate pass got Maoris full-back Alex Chan racing through a gap to touch down on 52 minutes.

Goodwin's conversion made it 16-12 and there were worried faces on the British bench when the sin-binning of Anderson left them with 12 men for the rest of the curtailed match.

Anderson had been fortunate to stay on the field only moments earlier when referee David Pakieto decided a stern lecture was enough punishment for a nasty high tackle on Chan.

He did not escape a second offence of ball-raking, and a timely Keith Senior intervention was needed to make the game safe as the Maoris pressed for the match-winning try.

Britain worked the ball upfield, Long took Lowes' pass and demonstrated electrifying pace to scoot over from 20 metres before Farrell kicked his third goal.

Britain head home with a year to improve on a dispiriting tour before next year's World Cup.

New Zealand Maoris: Chan, Mathews, Lewis, Berryman, Mills, Goodwin, Rangi, Rauhihi, Barlow, Edmonds, Henare, Rameka, Wynward. Subsitutions: Bailey, Moana, Watene, Koopu.

Great Britain: Radlinski, Robinson, Cummins, Senior, Sullivan, Farrell, Long, Anderson, Lowes, Laughton, Morley, Forshaw, Sculthorpe. Substitutes: Fielden, McDermott, Joynt, Hay.

Referee: D Pakieto (New Zealand).



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