New Zealand. . .10
IT'S A difficult trick to pull off - to play on as though life and honour depend upon it when you have already won the series. Still, a Test is exactly that, the examination of a side's worth, and for Britain there was the added incentive that a clean sweep against the Kiwis would put them in better heart, and pocket, to take on the more fearsome Kangaroos when they arrive next autumn.
Britain summoned up the concentration to pull it off all the same, beating the Kiwis by 19 points, adding two to the margin by which they had won the previous two Tests. And there was never any doubt that they would once they got over the anxious, messy first half, and began to run the ball daringly in the final quarter.
The New Zealanders, of course, needed no more encouragement than to pull on the black and white jersey. After Wembley and Wigan they had made some pretty drastic changes to their team, dropping not only their pilot, tour captain Gary Freeman, but his first mate, vice-captain and hooker, Duane Mann. Two Test defeats counted for more than the 62 consecutive caps they had amassed between them. The captaincy went, at only 21, to Stephen Kearney.
By comparison, Britain's changes, all among the forwards, were marginal - with one exception. This was the blooding of Wigan's young
second-row giant, Andrew Farrell - 6ft 4in, 17st and still only 18. And it was soon obvious why he had risen through the ranks of youth and under-21 teams in less than a month, as he repeatedly gained advantages by his speed as much as his bulk.
It was Shaun Edwards, who made the first breach with a swerving run and a precise little pass which put Karl Fairbank through in the 11th minute for the opening try, which Jonathan Davies converted. But on the debit side, Garry Schofield was nursing injured ribs, and at the same point went off to be replaced by Daryl Powell.
Britain were never under any threat, and after 17 minutes were awarded a penalty try when Phil Clarke was obstructed as he went to take a pass on the New Zealand line. Again the conversion came from Davies. The only reply before half- time was a brace of penalties from Frano Botica.
Davies, who had moved to stand-off in place of the substitute Powell after the interval, put Britain further ahead in the third quarter, first with a penalty and then a drop goal. But this was just a prologue to what followed, an interception by Davies a dozen yards out from his own line, bringing to an end the Kiwis' most forceful attacking spell, and a run upfield in which he outpaced everyone for a score. And that only seemed to stir the imagination of Martin Offiah, who galloped in for another try from deep.
Sonny Nickle then brought the house down by giving the scoring pass to give Farrell a try on his debut, Nickle's day ending in ignominy when he was sent off for elbowing. Jason Williams completed the English leg of the tour with a try for the Kiwis, but it was little consolation.
GREAT BRITAIN: J Davies (Warrington); J Devereux (Widnes), G Connolly (Wigan), P Newlove (Bradford), M Offiah (Wigan); G Schofield (Leeds, capt), S Edwards (Wigan); K Skerrett (Wigan), L Jackson (Sheffield), K Fairbank (Bradford), A Farrell (Wigan), C Joynt (St Helens), P Clarke (Wigan). Substitutes: D Powell (Sheffield) for Schofield, 11 min; S Nickle (St Helens) for Fairbank, 13 min; M Jackson (Halifax) for Newlove, 38min; A Tait (Leeds) for Powell, 40 min.
NEW ZEALAND: D Watson (Bradford); F Botica (Wigan), K Iro (Leeds), I Ropati (Auckland); J Williams (Canterbury- Bankstown), T Kemp (Castleford); A Whittaker (Canterbury), S Solomona (Oldham), D Johnston (Wellington), B Stuart (Canterbury), S Kearney (Western Suburbs, capt), Q Pongia (Canberra), J Mackie (Northland). Substitutes: R Blackmore (Castleford) for Solomona, 53 min; J Lomax (Canberra) for Watson, 53 min; W Taema (Canterbury) 73 min; D Lomax (Wellington) for Mackie, 73 min.
Referee: G McCallum (Australia).
Scores: Fairbank/Davies (try/conv, 11 min, 6-0); penalty try/Davies (17 min, 12-0); Botica (pen, 20 min, 12-2); Botica (pen, 32 min, 12- 4); Davies (pen, 56 min, 14-4); Davies (drop goal, 60 min, 15-4); Davies (try, 67 min, 19-4); Offiah/Davies (try/conv, 73 min, 25-4); Farrell (try, 75 min, 29-4); Williams/Botica (try/conv, 80 min, 29-10).
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