Great Britain fall to disappointing Tonga defeat

Great Britain’s first match in 12 years ended in defeat as Wayne Bennett’s side went down 14-6 to Tonga.

The long-awaited return of the famous jersey was overshadowed by the continued rise of another international side as the Tongans produced a passionate, full-blooded performance to inflict a loss to the Lions in the first game of their tour.

An underwhelming performance with the ball was their main downfall, with Great Britain struggling to pose any questions of the Tongan defence.

They had defended extensively in the opening quarter, weathering a heavy Tongan storm in the opening quarter after numerous sets defending their own line and a barrage of physical tackles.

However, a mix-up between Gareth Widdop and Lachlan Coote saw Michael Jennings open the scoring in the corner, before a scintillating try on the hooter that saw Tonga complete 16 passes and kick through saw Sione Katoa score.

The second-half was more even, with the Lions growing into the contest and enjoying more territory. But rarely did they look like scoring, with the entire offensive unit struggling to break down the Tongans.

They eventually did do through John Bateman, who powered over from close range. But a Tonga penalty goal beforehand had put the game out of their reach.

Tonga: Hopoate, Fusitu’a, Jennings, Hurrell, Tupou, Lolohea, Niu, Fonua-Blake, Havili, Taukeiaho, Murdoch-Masila, Ma’u, Taumalolo. Subs: Fifita, Katoa, Asiata, Topouniua.

Great Britain: Coote, McGillvary, Hardaker, Gildart, Hall, Widdop, Hastings, Hill, Hodgson, Thompson, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham. Subs: Jones, Burgess, Lomax, Walmsley.