John Bateman and Dan Sarginson play for England in 17-16 defeat to Tommy Leuluai’s New Zealand
Lewis Tierney features for Scotland against Australia
- Wales and Ireland qualify for 2017 World Cup
John Bateman and Dan Sarginson featured for England on Saturday as they went down to defeat at the hands of Tommy Leuluai’s New Zealand, by the narrowest of margins.
England dominated the opening 25 minutes but only had two penalties from the boot of Gareth Widdop to show for their admirable efforts.
Right winger Jermaine McGillvary had a couple of half-chances on his home ground, second rower John Bateman was held up over the line and impressive prop James Graham had a try disallowed for a double movement.
The tide appeared to turn on video referee Bernard Sutton’s decision to disallow Graham’s effort as the New Zealanders secured a foothold in the game, aided by a run of penalties, one of which was kicked by full-back Jordan Kahu to halve England’s lead.
Centre Solomone Kata was then denied a try by Sutton, who ruled England full-back Jonny Lomax got a hand to Johnson’s grubber kick to make the ball dead, but the pressure finally told six minutes before the break when Johnson and Kahu combined to create the space to work Rapana over at the corner.
That enabled the Kiwis to turn around 6-4 in front and they doubled their score within two minutes of the re-start when Johnson intercepted Widdop’s pass and held off the pursing Luke Gale to touch down at the corner.
Kahu added the difficult conversion but England responded immediately, with McGillvary taking second rower Elliott Whitehead’s pass and wrong-footing the defenders to cross wide out for a try goaled by Widdop.
At that point Bennett opted to give his skipper a breather and, from having all three Burgess brothers on the pitch, there was none and perhaps it was no coincidence that they conceded a third try in their absence.
A superb offload from substitute forward Manu Ma’u got Rapana into space and he trampled over Lomax to score his second try.
Kahu’s conversion attempt re-bounded off an upright, which kept England within a score, and it was all square on the hour after a couple of instinctive plays.
An overhead flick pass from Widdop got winger Ryan Hall into his stride and his diving, one-handed finish brought him his 29th try in as many appearances for his country.
Widdop’s touchline conversion made it 16-16 but Johnson edged his side back in front with a 65th-minute drop goal which, despite the efforts of Burgess, proved to be the final act of a pulsating match.
Elsewhere, Lewis Tierney featured for Scotland on Friday evening as the Bravehearts went down 54-12 to Australia in game one of the Ladbrokes Four Nations.
Doubles from Cooper Cronk and Josh Mansour saw the Kangaroos race into a 30-0 lead before Ryan Brierley got Steve McCormack’s side on the scoreboard meaning the teams turned around at 30-6.
A further four tries in the second period helped Australia ease home with Widnes’ Ben Kavanagh grabbing a consolation effort.
In other international news, Wales defeated Italy 20-14 on Saturday to secure their place at the 2017 World Cup with Ireland also joining them down under after a convincing 70-16 win over Russia.
Russia and Italy will now play off for the final spot at the World Cup on Friday evening at Leigh Sports Village.
Source - PA