Great Britain’s disappointing tour turned humiliating as a staggering collapse saw them defeated by Papua New Guinea 28-10.
The Kumuls, who fielded players from League 1 sides Doncaster and Barrow, destroyed the Lions as they scored 22 unanswered points in the second half.
This, a fourth defeat of a disastrous tour, was the lowest point. Defeats to world class opposition in Tonga and New Zealand was disappointing. This, however, was embarrassing.
Wayne Bennett, who is out of contract now the tour has ended, has earned heavy criticism for his team selection. He opted for Blake Austin, a halfback, over specialist winger Ash Handley, and stuck with the same halfback combination despite three insipid attacking displays.
Yet this wasn’t like the other three matches. Here, the Lions were bullied and out-enthused. The loss of captain James Graham after the first tackle, failing a head injury assessment, was an undoubted blow. But it wasn’t dealt with as the Lions’ energy levels fell badly in the second-half.
Things had started well, with Austin diving in at the corner and Josh Hodgson scooting over. But the Kumuls’ energy never waned. Great Britain’s did. PNG’s unorthodox, aggressive defence was too much for the Lions, whose intent with the ball and on kick chases became non-existent.
Edwin Ipape scythed through the defence to score on the half-time hooter, leaving Great Britain just 10-6 ahead.
That scored deflated the Lions and lifted the Kumuls, who gave their vibrant supporters a night they’ll never forget as they scorched to victory.
Doncaster halfback Watson Boas gave the Kumuls the lead before Justin Olam, of Melbourne, scored from a deflected grubber kick.
With the Lions now chasing the game, they only deteriorated further as they offered nothing with the ball. They looked fatigued and flustered.
Instead, the Kumuls got stronger, and further tries from Alex Johnston and Nixon Putt left the Lions crestfallen.
Papua New Guinea: Johnston; Gebbie, Mead, Olam, Amean; Laybutt, Boas; W Albert, Puara Jr, Page, Put, Russell, Martin. Subs: Ipape, Lo, S Albert, Meninga.
Great Britain: Lomax; McGillvary, Hughes, Connor, Austin; Widdop, Hastings; Hill, Hodgson, Burgess, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham. Subs: Thompson, Walmsley, Philbin, Williams.