Leeds Rhinos star Harry Newman scores as England beat Tonga 26-4 to complete Test series whitewash
Newman had played well in the first two games without having sight of Tonga’s tryline, but when his chance finally came, late in the second half, he took it. England kept the ball alive in fine style before Harry Smith kicked across field. Newman juggled, made the catch, stepped and slid in for a try which was confirmed by video referee Tom Grant.
England’s style of play isn’t the most expansive, but the build-up to that try highlighted the type of rugby they are capable of. Newman was also involved in the build-up to England’s first try and provided the pass which created their second and England could reflect on a job well done. The first Test at St Helens was evenly-contested, but England were comfortably the better side last week in Huddersfield and were again much too good for the tourists in front of a 15,477 crowd in Leeds.
It hasn’t been the most exciting series, but England’s dominance has been impressive and coach Shaun Wane is building a solid platform ahead of the next World Cup in three years’ time. Young players, for example Newman, Harry Smith of Wigan, who was named player of the series, St Helens’ Jack Welsby and Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis, have done a good job and there are others to come in who haven’t featured in this series.
Tonga have got worse as the campaign has gone on, and, unlike the first two games, they rarely tested England’s defence, their lone score coming off one of only two chances in the whole match. The hosts had a couple of opportunities, Matty Ashton almost getting to George Williams’ kick and Ben Currie being held up over Tonga’s line, before the latter opened the scoring on 13 minutes.
It was a fine try. Newman’s pass created some space for Tom Burgess who got an offload away to Smith. He swung the ball wide to Currie and the makeshift centre stepped in field to score near the posts, giving Smith a simple conversion.
Newman was also involved in the second try, scored by Ashton after 26 minutes. Moses Suli lost the ball near Tonga’s line in a tackle by the Leeds man. In the resulting set, John Bateman, the official man of the match, offloaded to Newman and Ashton crossed from his excellent flicked pass.
Smith added the extras and booted a penalty, following a dangerous tackle by Latu Fainu on Williams, to make it 14-0 eight minutes before the break. England prop Matty Lees was sin-binned along with Tongan loose-forward Keon Kolomatangi following a skirmish which erupted when the St Helens prop was accused of pulling the hair of Haumole Olakau’ata.
The next score, three minutes after the break, was a quality, long-range effort. Welsby’s cut-out pass sent Tom Johnstone racing along the left-wing, he turned the ball inside to Currie and Elliott Whitehead was in support to mark his international farewell with a try.
Smith added the extras and Whitehead had another touchdown ruled out on video evidence before Tonga were back down to 12 with Konrad Hurrell sin-binned for a foul on Mike McMeeken. Newman’s try followed moments later, but Tonga avoided a nilling when Eliesa Katoa scored from their first chance, after 67 minutes.
England: Welsby, Ashton, Newman, Currie, Johnstone, Williams, Smith, Burgess, Clark, Lees, Bateman, Whitehead, Mulhern. Subs Walker, Dupree, Hill, McMeeken.
Tonga: Hopoate, Penisini, Hurrell, Suli,Koula, Lolohea, Katoa, Sele, Havili, Kaufusi, Frizell, Koloamatangi. Subs Fainu, Fotuaika, Katoa, Wong.
Referee: Chris Kendall (England). Attendance: 15,477.