The UK Armed Forces rugby league side have scored their first win at the Defence World Cup in Australia. They beat New Zealand 40 points to 30 in their final World Cup qualifying game. Both teams came with two losses behind them and with the haka to perform, perhaps New Zealand felt they had the edge.
But it was the UK team that led from the outset with Lee Queeley scoring a try after only two minutes. Some sterling defence on the line from the men in white held New Zealand for a time but fast hands in midfield produced the Kiwis’ first score. Another early break from the UK saw Steve Wicks cross the line only a minute and half into the second forty. And then it was like a game of tag: New Zealand replied through Tevita Faukafa, only for Garry Dunn to score from a turnover.
Having been denied earlier on in the second half, Si Wray scored in the corner, and really that should have been the UK team out of sight. But New Zealand had other ideas - two tries in as many minutes meant there were some frayed nerves on the UK side - 34-26 up with 12 minutes left. New Zealand had the last word with a Cam Nicholas try out side but the final score was UK 40, New Zealand 30.
The UK’s intention was to put points on New Zealand, which they did, but on the flip side they’ll be disappointed with the number scored against them. That all said, it was a much needed and, in the end, well deserved win. The play-off for third and fourth places is on Friday - also against New Zealand.