Rugby League: Hounded tourists ride their luck

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The Independent Online
Lancashire Academy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Junior Kiwis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

THE aura of invincibility surrounding the Junior Kiwis was shattered at St Helens last night, although a penalty in the last minute gave them a win they hardly deserved, writes Dave Hadfield.

Henry Paul kicked the winning goal after he had been caught with a high tackle in front of the sticks. The penalty decision may have been technically correct, but it was a cruel injustice for a Lancashire side which had more than matched the tourists.

Although a scrappy first half punctuated by too many technical penalties prevented the Kiwis from producing the power play of their first two matches on tour, the Lancashire side, drawn from young players on the books of professional clubs, could not counter the strength of the Samoan second row, Joe Vagana, who scored twice in the first half.

The tour captain, Paul, added two goals to a first- minute penalty, but Lancashire kept in touch with three penalties from Iestyn Harris, a member of the Wales squad for the full international in Swansea on Sunday.

The St Helens' scrum-half, John McAtee, set up the equalising score with a quick pass to Leigh's Simon Baldwin and Harris kicked his fifth goal after 62 minutes.

Lancashire could have won the match twice in the closing minutes, when McAtee had a try disallowed and then had a drop goal attempt touched on its way over the bar.

LANCASHIRE ACADEMY: Harris (Warrington); Skaiff (Salford), Hope (Wigan), Roper (Warrington), Haigh (St Helens); Martin (Leigh), McAtee (St Helens); Walker (Widnes), Rowley (Leigh), Eastwood (St Helens), Baldwin (Leigh), Haughton (Wigan), Wainwright (Warrington). Substitutes: Craig (Wigan) for Skaiff, 54; Davies (St Helens) for Haughton, 50; Sheil (St Helens) for Eastwood, 40.

JUNIOR KIWIS: Paul (Te Atatu); Chan (Taupo), Vaikona (Lincoln), Malietoa-Brown (Papakura), Lima; Noovao (both Otahuhu), Swann (Marist); Weepu (Wainuiomata), Beiren (Papanui), Fatialofa (Marist), Vagana (Richmond), Kelemete, Faifoa (both Porirua). Substitutes: Johnsen (Hokitika) for Chan, 61; Henare (Otahuhu) for Weepu, 58.

Referee: P Grimshaw (Manchester).

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