Rugby League: British blushes saved as Long unleashed at last

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The Independent Online
SEAN LONG saved Great Britain from further embarrassment on their Tri-Series misadventures with the try that finally made the game safe in a 22-12 defeat of a scratch side of reserve-teamers and part-timers. Long, mystifingly denied the chance to start the games that really counted against Australia and New Zealand, only played scrum-half in this Tri- Series final curtain-raiser because of an injury to Ryan Sheridan, but it was his second touchdown of the night six minutes from time that made sure that a bad trip did not get worse.

Britain were leading 16-12, with Paul Anderson in the sin-bin for interfering at the play-the-ball, when Long ran on to a pass from another of the tour's belated successes, James Lowes, to show his exceptional pace and score. Andy Farrell's conversion made it look relatively comfortable, yet it was anything but, with even Britain's early 12-point lead proving to be misleading.

That came courtesy of two scratchy tries - a pass from Farrell to Anthony Sullivan that could just as easily have been intercepted and one from Paul Sculthorpe to Long that looked distinctly forward.

Even with that start, Andy Goodway's men were far from convincing, with a penalty from Willie Rangi and a try from Darren Ramaka eating away at their lead, as a Maori side well short of the quality they will bring to next year's World Cup threatened more misery.

Lowes scored a characteristic try from dummy half early in the second half, but Luke Goodwin - who once played for Goodway at Oldham - sent Alex Chan through for a try that made it far too close for comfort.

NEW ZEALAND MAORIS: Chan (Wentworthville); Matthews (Glenora), Lewis (Auckland), Berryman (Waikato), Mills (Wests); Goodwin (Wests), Rangi (Kellyville); Rauhihi (Newcastle), Barlow (Kellyville), Edmonds (Northcote), Henare (St George), Rameka (Wests), Wynyard (London). Substitutes used: Bailey (Glenora), Moana (Halifax), Watene (Wakefield), Koopu (Auckland).

GREAT BRITAIN: Radlinski (Wigan); Robinson (Wigan), Cummins (Leeds), Senior (Leeds), Sullivan (St Helens); Farrell (Wigan), Long (St Helens); Anderson (Bradford), Lowes (Bradford), Laughton (Huddersfield-Sheffield), Morley (Leeds), Forshaw (Bradford), Sculthorpe (St Helens). Substitutes used: Fielden (Bradford), McDermott (Leeds), Joynt (St Helens), Hay (Leeds).

Referee: D Pakieto (New Zealand).