Rugby League: Long locates right attitude at last for Britain

Great Britain 23 New Zealand 23

FAR TOO late to save the series, Great Britain found the cool nerve under pressure to rescue a lurching brute of a third Test at Watford on Saturday. Those lurches set the game up for another Kiwi canter to complete a whitewash, only for an improbable series of events to bring Britain a share of the spoils.

With 15 minutes to play, it was a case of for Bolton, read Watford, as the Kiwis took control with rugby so incisive and irrepressible that it seemed purely a matter of how many they would score before they inflicted enough misery on their hosts. But then along came Long; Sean of that ilk, a free spirit who had fitfully hinted at disorientating New Zealand with pace and unpredictability.

He had followed the precious game plan for the first hour until it became clear that it was leading nowhere. With nothing else left in the locker, he took on the Kiwi defence himself and scored the solo try that lifted spirits and suggested new possibilities.

"Fantastic," said his coach, Andy Goodway. "That's what he was there for. He's done everything we asked of him, even if he has us tearing our hair out at times, and there are a few more things we can show him over the next couple of years."

Long was the third half-back partner of the series for Tony Smith, something that makes it all the more remarkable that the Wigan scrum-half should have emerged with such credit at the end of the three matches, even viewed alongside Stacey Jones, arguably the world's best.

After Jones's dropped goal had stretched New Zealand's lead to a match- winning seven points, Smith changed all the calculations by backing up Francis Cummins' break, taking the inside path and going over for the try which, with Andy Farrell's conversion, put them one point behind.

It still seemed too little, far too late, but what better time to produce the first drop-goal of your career. "When the ball went back to him," said Farrell, who already had an effort charged down, "we thought, `oh, no, anyone but him'."

However, Smith, with the clock showing three seconds left, looked like he had been chipping them over for the single point all his life.

Great Britain celebrated as though they had won a series against Australia. Now is the time to take stock of whether there is much to celebrate at all. Although the British camp was able to argue afterwards that a controversial try on half-time in the first Test had effectively cost them the series, there was rather more to it than that. There were times, like the whole of the second half at Bolton and most of it at Watford, when they were outplayed to an embarrassing extent.

"I think we've shown glimpses throughout the series that we can develop into a pretty good team," Goodway said. Glimpses, however, are not enough; not when they are set alongside the lapses that undermine their efforts. Goodway says that will only change when he has more time with the squad. But they will not be together again for competitive purposes until they play Australia and New Zealand down under almost a year from now.

Looking that far ahead, there are some bonuses for Goodway. The emergence of Long, while begging the question of why he was not used as a substitute earlier in the series, gives him some valuable options at half-back.

The bright spot in the forwards was the solid work of the 20-year-old Terry Newton in his first Test; so much so that Goodway rated his leaving the field exhausted and returning refreshed as two of the turning points of the game. Newton's future may well be as a utility forward rather than as a specialist hooker, but he did enough to pencil his name into future plans.

This has not been an encouraging series elsewhere in the pack. Losing Adrian Morley for all three Tests was a blow and Farrell, struggling throughout with an unpublicised groin injury, was never at his best.

Fully fit, both of players would earn a place in the Kiwi pack. Nobody else would, which says something about the current standing of British forwards in world terms.

GREAT BRITAIN: Radlinski; Robinson, Connolly (all Wigan), Senior (Sheffield), Cummins (Leeds); Long (St Helens), T Smith; O'Connor (both Wigan), Newton (Leeds), Laughton (Sheffield), Joynt, Sculthorpe (both St Helens), Farrell (Wigan). Substitutes: Fleary (Leeds), Forshaw (Bradford), Haughton, Gilmour (both Wigan).

NEW ZEALAND: Barnett (Sydney City); Hoppe, Iro (both Auckland), Wiki (Canberra), Halligan (Canterbury); R Paul (Bradford), Jones; Vagana, Eru, Pongia, Kearney (all Auckland), McCracken (Parramatta), Swann (Auckland). Substitutes: H Paul (Wigan), Cayless (Parramatta), Puletua (Penrith), C Smith (Illawarra).

Referee: B Harrigan (Australia).

Suggested Topics
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?