Rugby League: Holroyd brings inspiration: World's best junior side suffer surprising reverse in first defeat of tour

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The Independent Online
Great Britain Under-19. .34

Junior Kiwis. . . . . . .12

GREAT BRITAIN'S richly talented Under-19 side produced a superb performance at Wigan last night to inflict the only defeat of their tour on the team regarded as the best in the world at this level.

The unexpected triumph was all the more creditable for being achieved without their captain and outstanding player, Andrew Farrell, who was forced to pull out with a neck injury. In his absence, Britain found any number of other heroes.

Apart from conceding an early penalty to Henry Paul, Britain held their own in the initial exchanges, with their scrum-half, Ryan Sheridan, organising busily. Paul Rowley put over a drop goal to open their scoring and then a thunderous run by Wigan's Simon Haughton put them in an attacking position that they exploited by moving the ball rapidly to the opposite wing. The Warrington full-back, Lee Penny, came into the line to supply Jon Roper with the scoring pass. Iestyn Harris, so unlucky with his kicks in the first international at Wembley, put this one over from the touchline.

When New Zealand began to show their ability, Bill Weepu's storming run and one-handed pass sent Vilai Kelemete away. Paul missed an easy conversion, leaving Great Britain with a one-point lead that they extended with a Harris penalty.

A drop goal from Holroyd gave Great Britain a little more breathing space, and the same player launched a perfect cross- kick for Roper to claim his second try.

Simon Baldwin, a substitute, then set up Houghton for another try, Harris again adding the goal.

The Kiwis hinted at a comeback with a try from Meti Noovao but the inspired Britons replied almost at once with Paul Stevens sending Sheridan over. Three minutes later the man of the match, Holroyd, grabbed one of his spectacular dribbling tries and Sheridan's second touchdown two minutes from the end completed an astonishing romp.

GREAT BRITAIN ACADEMY UNDER-19 XIII: Penny (Warrington); Roper (Warrington), Martin (Leigh), Stevens (Wigan, capt), Harris (Warrington); Holroyd (Leeds), Sheridan (Sheffield); Sykes (Castleford), Rowley (Leigh), Pearson (Leeds), Flynn (Wakefield), Haughton (Wigan), Wainwright (Warrington). Substitutes: Schultz (Leeds) for Pearson, 50; Baldwin (Leigh) for Sykes, 55; Lawless (Halifax) for Rowley, 61; Smith (Castleford) for Roper, 71.

JUNIOR KIWIS: Paul (Te Atatu, capt); Chan (Taupo Broncos), Vaikona (Lincoln University), MacDonald (Hornby), P Lima (Otahuhu); Noovao (Otahuhu), Swann (Marist); Weepu (Wainuiomata), Beirne (Papanui), Fatialofa (Marist), Vagana (Richmond Rovers), Kelemete (Porirua), Henare (Otahuhu). Substitutes: D Lima (Otahuhu) for Weepu, 55; Manihera (Eastern Suburbs) for Vaikona, 68; Johnsen (Hokitika) for P Lima, 74; Faifua (St George Porirua) for Kelemete, 74.

Referee: J-L Aribaud (France).

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