Oliver Gildart strikes late to give England victory over New Zealand
The Observer Rugby league Oliver Gildart strikes late to give England victory over New Zealand â¢ England 18-16 New Zealand
â¢ Gildart scores magnificent late try on England debut
First blood for this new-look England side in the latest instalment of determining who are the nearest contenders to the all-conquering Australia. Without 12 members of the squad that reached last yearâs Wo rld Cup final, this three-match series against the Kiwis is an opportunity for Englandâs new breed to make their mark. How they set about doing that here.
It was tough, it was gritty and it was everything you would come to expect from two sides who have no shortage of recent history with one another. In a final quarter that was crying out for one decisive moment that would determine the outcome of this first Test it was fitting that it was one of those new faces who provided it.
Three weeks ago, Oliver Gildart was preparing to tour Papua New Guinea with the England Knights, before receiving a late call into the squad following the withdrawal of Sam Burgess, one of many established names unavailable to Wayne Bennett. The centreâs inclusion certainly raised a few eyebrows. He silenced those doubts, though.
With the game firmly in the balance with 15 minutes remaining, the 22-year-old produced a moment not only of decisive nature, but of supreme quality, too.
âIt was great to watch,â was how Bennett described Gildartâs magnificent 50-metre solo try that ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides.
While it is England who head to Anfield next Sunday one up, the nature of a thrilling, high-intensity Test certainly sets up the remainder of series magnificently.
There was also the encouraging sign that even without so many senior players â" and captain Sean OâLoughlin lasting only 10 minutes before succumbing to a calf injury â" the next generation are capable of making the step up. âI hope you realise youâve got a pretty special footy team here in England,â Bennett said.
âWe did great to reach the final of the World Cup last year and England should be really proud of them, theyâre a great group of guys. Weâre building some depth too now.â
Though it was a debutant in Gildart who ultimately settled the match, it was a far more familiar face who opened the scoring. This was Sam Tomkinsâs first appearance for England in four years and he certainly made a quick impression, finishing a fine, free-flowing move after three minutes.Winners abound as NRL coaching merry-go-round whirs away | Nick Tedeschi Read more
New Zealand, clearly second-best in the early stages, responded well. By 12 minutes they were level when a marvellous Shaun Johnson pass freed Esan Marsters to score. As the Kiwis began to assert their dominance with half-time nearing, Kodi Nikorimaâs half-break was finished by the captain, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, to make it 12-6.
Watene-Zelezniak, however, became the villain with seconds remaining of the first half as he was adjudged to have used the knees in the act of stopping Jake Connor scoring, which resulted in a penalty try that Connor converted on the stroke of half-time to make it 12-12.
âIâd have to see it again,â was the reaction of the New Zealand coach, Michael Maguire, to what prove d to be a sizeable moment in the game.
The second half followed on a similar theme to the first â" bruising intensity and both sides providing ferocious defensive play for a slightly disappointing crowd in Hull.
For large periods of the second half, it looked as though Johnsonâs two penalties would prove to be the difference. But with points, and chances, at a premium, Gildart put the seal on an impressive Test debut on 66 minutes with the try that sealed victory.Topics
- Rugby league
- The Observer
- England rugby league team
- New Zealand rugby league
- match reports
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