England left in the cold as Carmont snatches last-minute Exiles win

England 12 Exiles 16

The inaugural International Origin match was hailed as a success last night, despite English disappointment at conceding a last-minute match-winner to George Carmont.

The Wigan centre's try consigned England to a defeat that was always a possibility once they decided that they needed a really demanding mid-season fixture.

"Our objective was to create a genuine competitive fixture that gave England the intensity they need to prepare for the Four Nations and that's just what we got," said the RFL's chief executive, Nigel Wood. "The attendance of 14,174 was very pleasing."

The England coach, Steve McNamara, also believed it had been a worthwhile exercise. "It was exactly what our international set-up needs," he said. "We're hugely, hugely disappointed not to have come out on the right side of the result. That team would test any team.

"I think the fixture will grow and grow. It's the first year of a new and exciting concept."

The Exiles' Brian McClennan paid tribute to the pride with which his hastily-assembled team played. "It was intense all the way through and it went down to the last minute," he said.

There were two notable tackles in the opening minutes – one from Sam Tomkins to keep out the dangerous Rangi Chase and one from Ben Westwood that hit Willie Manu with an impact worthy of the Australian State of Origin format.

There was little held back, certainly not when James Graham smashed through the antipodean forwards to create an equaliser that continued Richie Myler's remarkable try-scoring record for England. Still it was the scratch team, put together in a week's camp in Leeds, who carried a little more polish and a little more threat.

After Kevin Sinfield's fumble invited a counter attack, Tom Briscoe's tackle kept Pat Richards out of one corner, only for Brett Hodgson's kick to put Francis Meli over in the other, with Sia Soliola the acrobatic link-man.

The expatriates would have been further ahead at half-time if Richards had not been denied again, this time by Sam Tomkins' tackle.

It was still enough to make them look comfortably in control after the interval, apart from one promising break from Michael Shenton. The unavoidable impression was that it was the Exiles, with Chase probing down the left and Leuluai on the right, who had the edge in ideas.

Then, out of the blue, Joel Tomkins intercepted from Buderus and showed remarkable pace to go 90 metres and score, with Sinfield's goal putting England in front for the first time. And there, despite having to defend for most of the last ten minutes, they stayed until Carmont pounced in the last minute.

England: S Tomkins; Briscoe, Shenton, Bridge, Hall; Sinfield, Myler; Peacock, Robinson, Graham, Wilkin, Westwood, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used: McIlorum, Morley, Carvell, J Tomkins.

Exiles: Hodgson; Meli, Soliola, Carmont, Richards; Chase, T Leuluai; Puletua, Buderus, O'Meley, Anderson, Manu, Fitzgibbon. Substitutes used: K Leuluai, Faiumu, Fa'alogo, Morrison.

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