Rugby League: Kiwis caught by Ellis' opportunism

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The Independent Online
Castleford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

New Zealand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

NEW ZEALAND went down to the second midweek defeat of their British tour, the victims of some inhospitably tight defence and the opportunism of St John Ellis, writes Dave Hadfield.

The Castleford winger scored a hat-trick of tries, two of them from passes by Richie Blackmore, controversially omitted from the New Zealand team for the first Test.

A Kiwi team including only two players scheduled to start that game on Saturday found themselves under considerable pressure from the start.

With Tony Kemp, a New Zealander who might have hoped for a Test place himself, prominent in their approach play, Castleford moved the ball well and were only held off by well-organised defence.

A tendency to lose the ball in the tackle stopped the Kiwis finding any rhythm and after 28 minutes they fell behind to a fine try by Simon Middleton. Tony Morrison made the initial break, releasing the Castleford winger down the left with a well-timed pass.

Middleton chip-kicked over the tourists' full-back, Peter Edwards, and although his second touch seemed to be too firm, he was able to touch down the rolling ball inches before the dead-ball line.

Two minutes before half-time, Castleford struck again, moving the ball rapidly to the right from a scrum awarded after an expensive knock-on by Peter Edwards for Ellis to score. Lee Crooks could land neither conversion.

New Zealand began the second half more brightly but continued to let themselves down with careless handling. After soaking up the best New Zealand could offer, Castleford came back to score their third try. Blackmore made it possible, charging on to a pass from Mike Ford and contriving to slip a one-handed pass for Ellis, who still needed to do plenty of work before claiming his second try of the night.

The tourists responded with a try created by a break from their lively scrum-half, Aaron Whittaker, who threw an inside pass for the supporting Logan Edwards.

The Blackmore and Ellis combination worked again for Castleford with five minutes left, Ellis this time getting a more comfortable passage to the corner.

Castleford: Steadman; Ellis, Blackmore, Anderson, Middleton; Kemp (Smith, 76), Ford; Crooks (Sampson, 76), Russell, Ketteridge (England, 30), Hay, Morrison, Smales.

New Zealand: P Edwards; Donnelly, Harding, Ropati, M Edwards (Williams, 76), Nixon, Whittaker, Piva, Johnston, Johnson (Lowrie, 36), Angell (Mackie, 50), Pongia (D Lomax, 58), L Edwards.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).

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