Clubb seizes late chance to impress

England 36 Papua New Guinea 10
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The Independent Online

A night which began with a measure of relief for England supporters ended in consternation as they ran for safety at Eden Park.

Having seen England record a victory over Papua New Guinea that was largely attributable to the finishing power of Harlequins centre, Tony Clubb, with his four tries, many stayed on to watch New Zealand play Australia in the second half of the double-header.

Few of them saw the end of Australia's convincing 34-20 win, after an outbreak of mass bottle-throwing in the second half.

It began as an extension of a Mexican Wave among disillusioned Kiwi fans, but took a more worrying turn when all manner of missiles rained down onto the lower seats and the pitch.

"It was extremely frightening," said rugby league legend Alex Murphy, who is leading a British tour group at the Four Nations tournament. "A woman near me was hit in the eye with a bottle. It was a miracle nobody was killed."

Thousands of people left early, before the end of an event that was intended as a trial run for next year's rugby union World Cup. There was also fighting in the stands and a highly charged atmosphere that saw the Australian anthem booed throughout.

"I have never experienced that before, but they are very passionate people," Australian captain Cameron Smith said.

Earlier, a crowd slowly building to an eventual 34,000 for the first game of league at Eden Park for 22 years saw England claim their first victory of the Four Nations, without looking very convincing.

Clubb, in his first appearance of the tour, scored a hat-trick of tries in the first half and another in the second to snuff out any chance of a fightback by the gutsy Kumuls.

"I just wanted a chance to show what I could do," said the 23-year-old Kent-born player. "Papua New Guinea aren't the best team in the world, but four tries isn't bad."

England's other major success was the Huddersfield scrum-half Luke Robinson, who helped the cause with two solo tries in the first half. He missed most of the second with a dislocated elbow and now risks appearing at the wedding he postponed for this tour with one or both arms in a sling, having already booked in for shoulder surgery.

Sam Burgess was also sidelined with a suspected dislocated shoulder and Kevin Brown was concussed, leaving Steve McNamara with just one substitute at his disposal in the second half.

England: Tomkins; Hall, Cudjoe, Clubb, Briscoe; Brown, Robinson; Graham, Roby, Burgess, Ellis, Westwood, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: Carvell, D.Griffin, Harrison, Widdop.

PNG: Parker; Mark, Riyong, Yere, Kambo; Nami, Aiye; Aizue, Wabo, Kolo, R. Griffin, Loko, Aiton. Substitutes used: John, Moni, Pombo, Kuike.

Referee: S Rehme (NZ)