Great Britain on high for final

Great Britain 26 - New Zealand 24
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The Independent Online

It is a week early to get too excited, but the last time Great Britain put together a better run than this, Super League was a twinkle in the eye, the game was still played in winter and Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson had just made their Test debuts.

It is a week early to get too excited, but the last time Great Britain put together a better run than this, Super League was a twinkle in the eye, the game was still played in winter and Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson had just made their Test debuts.

If that is a boost for British morale going into Saturday's Tri-Nations final against Australia, another is that a third victory in a row means Great Britain have won the group stage.

Now for the main event. "We wanted to go in on a high note and we've managed to do that," said Farrell, who could today be named as only the second Briton to win the Golden Boot as the world's outstanding player. "Now we have to do it against Australia when it counts."

To achieve that, Great Britain will have to reproduce the better aspects of their performance at Hull.

Even the Aussies will look with some alarm at the way that Brian Carney and Martin Gleeson combined on Saturday. The ebullient Irishman scored two tries and put one on a plate to Paul Johnson, but it was Gleeson who gave him the chances.

"It's a joy to play alongside him," said Carney of his team-mate. Carney is emerging as the personality of the tournament, but he needs a centre who can make the best use of his speed and power. In Gleeson, he has found one. The footwork that drew in two defenders to set up each of Carney's tries was fit to grace any era.

Not everything was that good for Britain. They trailed 12-4 at the interval and also conceded two late tries. "We let New Zealand play at times and off-load the ball," said the British coach, Brian Noble. A bigger concern for Noble isthe fitness of Matt Diskin, who will have a scan today on a knee injury, and Gareth Ellis, who will have an ankle injury assessed.

* Australia won their last match before the final, beating France 52-30 in a friendly in Toulouse. Australia's captain Darren Lockyer came through safely but Jason Ryles has been ruled out of the final with a recurrence of hamstring trouble.

Great Britain: Tries Senior, Carney 2, Farrell, Johnson; Goals Farrell 3. New Zealand: Tries V Anderson, Vagana, Chan, Hape; Goals Webb 4.

GREAT BRITAIN: Wellens (St Helens); Carney (Wigan), Gleeson (Warrington), Senior (Leeds), Reardon (Bradford); Harris (Bradford), McGuire (Leeds); Fielden (Bradford), Diskin (Leeds), Morley (Sydney), Ellis (Wakefield), Farrell (Wigan), O'Loughlin (Wigan). Substitutes used: Higham (St Helens) Walker (Leeds), Johnson (Bradford), Ward (Leeds).

NEW ZEALAND: Webb (NZ Warriors); Meli (NZ Warriors), Vagana (Cronulla), Toopi (NZ Warriors), Hape (Bradford); V Anderson (NZ Warriors), Leuluai (NZ Warriors); J Cayless (Sydney), L Anderson (NZ Warriors), Rauhihi (North Queensland), Swann (Bradford), Lauitiiti (Leeds), Koopu (NZ Warriors). Substitutes used: Halatau (Wests-Tigers), Asotasi (Canterbury), N Cayless (Parramatta), Chan (Melbourne).

Referee: T Mander (Australia).

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