Riot greets the Lions

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The Independent Online
Great Britain's tourists arrived here, where they play Papua New Guinea in a Test on Saturday, to find they had narrowly missed a riot which unconfirmed reports suggest had left two people dead.

The Lions were supposed to fly into the city yesterday in time to watch the Inter City Cup final between the Mendi Muruks and the Kundiawa Warriors.

It might be as well for their peace of mind that a delayed 50-hour journey prevented them from attending, because riots when Mendi were leading 22- 9 saw the match abandoned after 60 minutes.

The police opened fire and various reports in Lae last night were that one or two people had been killed.

"It is obviously very unsettling," said the Great Britain coach, Phil Larder. "From what we have heard it is purely a matter of internal rivalry and should not affect us in the Test here.

"But we have a lot of very young players with us and this is bound to be unsettling. I will be having a word with all of them to reassure them and I've spoken to the Chief of Police and the PNG coach, who is also a policeman, and they have assured me that there will be no problem in the Test."

Great Britain's immediate problem lies in preparing adequately for the first match of their Oceania tour, at more than 5,000ft altitude on Mount Hagen on Wednesday.

A training session during a stopover in Singapore may have helped to get the squad acclimatised to hot weather but it also revealed that neither Bobbie Goulding nor Chris Joynt will be fit enough to be involved this week.

Conversely, PNG have the best possible team news, with Adrian Lam, the outstanding scrum-half in last year's World Cup, being free to play despite his affiliation with the Australian Rugby League.