Advantage England in Tonga Test Series


A double from Tom Johnstone helped England to their first win of the test series against Tonga in St Helens, winning 22-18.

Toby King and Mikey Lewis also got on the scoresheet in a display which was untidy at times, but got the job done for Shaun Wane’s men.

There was an initial shock with Liam Farrell left out of the 17-man squad ahead of kick off, but he was surplus to requirements and you’d expect him to feature at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday in the second test match against Kristian Woolf’s side.

But once the game got into action after a delayed kick off due to turnstile issues, England looked in the mood with Toby King going over to open the scoring.

The try seemed to wake Woolf’s side up and very little time passed before they too had points next to their name, Starford To’a going over in the corner and being awarded the try from upstairs.

The visiting nation then stunned the Totally Wicked Stadium into silence when Tyson Frizell burst through the gaping English defence to score and put his country ahead.

It looked like the Tongans could head into the interval with the advantage, but debutant Mikey Lewis really stepped his game up a few gears, weaving in and out before using Harry Newman’s outside run as a decoy to score on the inside.

A debut try which was later boosted by a Man of the Match award capping off the perfect debut for the emotional Hull KR man.

With three minutes of the half remaining, Tonga had just enough time to level the scores with a penalty goal, leaving the interval result at 12-12.

The second half appeared wide open, but really it was all about Tom Johnstone.

His first try came on 55 minutes after a world-class pass from Jack Welsby picked the winger out beautifully and allowed him to cross with ease as England edged in front once again.

And just past the hour mark, Johnstone had his second after he intercepted brilliantly on the left edge before completing a 40-metre burst to put England 10 points to the good with little over 10 to play.

Tolutau Koula made it a nervy finish for Wane after a burst on the far side left Tonga within four points but the England men held their nerve to see out a first Test win in front of nearly 13,000 supporters.

With the next test schedueled for just six days time, it’s fair to expect a fired up, fitter Tonga side whilst Shaun Wane admitted there will be changes for his line up at the John Smith’s Stadium.

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