MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 06:58:56| >> :600:23144212:23144212:
Nov 9, 2019 at 7am UK
New Zealand
Great BritainGreat Britain Lions
Manu (13'), Johnson (34'), Maumalo (46')
Hodgson (50')

Result: Great Britain lose again to suffer series defeat in New Zealand

The Kiwis ran out 23-8 winners in Christchurch as the Lions suffered a third successive defeat on tour.

Great Britain’s eagerly-awaited return after a 12-year absence is turning into a nightmare after they suffered a third straight defeat on their tour of New Zealand.

Beaten 14-6 in their opening game by a Tongan Invitational XIII, the Lions showed signs of improvement in going down 12-8 in the first Test with the Kiwis but it was back to square one in Christchurch, where they played dismally and were beaten 23-8 on Saturday.

A 2-0 series whitewash piles the pressure on coach Wayne Bennett, whose contract is up at the end of the year and who will be looking for consolation when he takes his side to Port Moresby for their last match against Papua New Guinea next Saturday.

On this performance, Britain will struggle to beat the Kumuls, who pushed Fiji all the way before going down 22-20 in an Oceania Cup match played as a curtain-raiser at the Orangetheory Stadium.

There was little to choose between the teams in Auckland but this time the Kiwis were far superior and a total of three tries in three matches sums up the Lions’ inadequacies.

New Zealand had all the aces, in particular Shaun Johnson, a regular scourge of England who had a point to prove after being dropped for the first Test.

Johnson, who broke England hearts in the 2013 World Cup semi-final, sent centre Joseph Manu over for the first try and jinked his way over for one of his own before half-time to put his side into an unassailable 16-2 lead.

Johnson deliberately targeted makeshift Lions winger Blake Austin, whose selection out of position exposed Bennett’s ill-judged squad selection.

Shaun Johnson was influential  for New Zealand
Shaun Johnson was influential for New Zealand (Dave Howarth/PA)

The Warrington stand-off came up with the first error of the game after only three minutes, fumbling Johnson’s bomb, which set the tone for a wretched first half.

Jamayne Isaako and Gareth Widdop traded early penalties, just as they did in the first Test, before the Kiwis half-backs engineered an opening for Manu to score the first try after 12 minutes.

Britain looked to hit back straight away but a handling error by Tom Burgess on the first tackle in front of the New Zealand posts knocked the stuffing out of them and Isaako nudged his side further ahead with two penalty goals.

Johnson’s solo try just before half-time and an acrobatic finish from winger Ken Maumalo early in the second half enabled the Kiwis to strengthen their grip on the game as they led 20-2.

Josh Hodgson
Josh Hodgson was on the scoresheet for Great Britain (Dave Howarth/PA)

The introduction of Luke Thompson, Alex Walmsley and Josh Jones from the bench injected more punch and purpose into the Lions attack and a superb offload from a four-man tackle by Jones got hooker Josh Hodgson over for a 50th-minute try.

Widdop added the conversion and Britain almost scored again when second rower John Bateman chased Widdop’s grubber kick only to be beaten to the touch by full-back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Jake Connor was also denied as the tourists piled the pressure on in the last 15 minutes but without creating enough chances to make it count and Isaako wrapped up the scoring with a drop goal and a fourth penalty on the stroke of full-time.

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Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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