|Great Britain Rugby League Lions Tour 2019|
|New Zealand (2) 12|
|Tries: Isaako, Harawira-Naera Goals: Isaako 2|
|Great Britain (2) 8|
|Try: Clark Goals: Widdop 2|
Great Britain lost to New Zealand in Auckland – their second consecutive defeat at the start of their 2019 tour.
Seven days after being beaten by Tonga Invitational XIII, Great Britain had the better of the first half but went in drawing 2-2 at the interval.
New Zealand took control after half-time, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s brilliance setting up Jamayne Isaako, before Corey Harawira-Naera powered over.
Those tries were enough for the Kiwis, despite Daryl Clark’s reply.
Jermaine McGillvary was inches away from a dramatic late score which would have brought Great Britain level with a touchline kick to follow, but Kenny Bromwich produced a stunning last-ditch tackle on the try line to dislodge the ball from the Huddersfield winger’s grasp.
Wayne Bennett’s side were strong in defence once more, but again struggled to break down their opposition at the other end of the field for long periods and have managed just 14 points in their first two games of the tour.
The Kiwis struggled for creativity in the first half too, not helped by the loss of half-back Kieran Foran to a shoulder injury just six minutes into his international return after a two-year absence.
But full-back Tuivasa-Sheck was at his mercurial best to dart through a gap in the Great Britain defensive line and offloaded for winger Isaako to touch down in the corner.
Kiwi forward Briton Nikora’s effort was ruled out by the video referee for a knock-on, but the hosts did not have to wait long for their second score as four Great Britain defenders could not halt Harawira-Naera’s charge for the line.
A typical opportunist try from Warrington hooker Clark left Great Britain 12 minutes to overturn a four-point deficit, but the tiring Kiwis held out under growing pressure from the visitors.
‘There’s hope there’ – analysis of Great Britain’s defeat
Former Great Britain forward Denis Betts told BBC Two:
“I thought New Zealand were there for the taking. There wasn’t a lot in it, they’d built some pressure and taken energy out of the New Zealand team. In the second half, the opportunities came.
“I thought Great Britain were really good – they just didn’t score many tries. I know it’s about winning and losing – you look at the scoreboard and they’ve lost, but on every other statistic in that game, the best side has lost.
“The combinations looked stronger, Jonny Lomax at full-back looked dangerous, and defensively they were really strong. There’s hope there, we’ve just got to find that next step forward.”
Ex-Great Britain international Jonathan Davies:
“The better side won. I don’t think New Zealand created much – the two tries they scored were from a missed tackle and then some soft defence.
“Great Britain came back into the game, created the opportunities, but McGillvary has got to finish that. An international winger and the class he is – he’s got to score it.”
Great Britain play the second of two Tests against New Zealand in Christchurch on Saturday, 9 November (07:00 GMT kick-off).
Every game of the tour will be shown live on BBC Two and on the BBC Sport website and app, where you can also find live text commentary of each match.
New Zealand: Tuivasa-Sheck; Maumalo, Nicoll-Klokstad, Manu, Isaako; Foran, Marshall (capt); Tetevano, Nikorima, Waerea-Hargreaves, Nikora, Bromwich, Tapine.
Interchanges: Hughes, Harawira-Naera, Ah Mau, Blair.
Great Britain: Lomax; McGillvary, Hardaker, Connor, Hall; Widdop, Hastings; Hill, Hodgson, Burgess, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham (capt).
Interchanges: Jones, Philbin, Clark, Walmsley.
Referee: Chris Kendall