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England's men seal series 3-0 sweep of Tonga | Women rout Wales in Headingley double-header

Elliott Whitehead marked his final international appearance with two tries as England defeated Tonga 24-6 to secure a 3-0 series victory at AMT Headingley; the first match of the international double-header in Leeds saw England Women defeat Wales 60-0 in an 11-try rout

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 04/11/2023 - Rugby League - Men's International - England v Tonga - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - England's George Williams lifts the England v Tonga Test Series trophy after his side were victorius by the score of 3-0.
Image: England captain George Williams celebrates with the series shield after the win over Tonga

Elliott Whitehead marked his final international appearance with a try to help England to a 24-6 win and secure a 3-0 series victory over Tonga in the third Test at Headingley.

Tries from Ben Currie and Matty Ashton, plus two conversions and a penalty from Harry Smith, put England into a 14-0 lead at the break, while both teams ended the half with 12 players on the pitch after Matty Lees and Keaon Koloamatangi were sin-binned.

Whitehead, who was later denied a second by the video referee, crossed five minutes into the second half with Harry Newman grabbing his first international try as well. Tonga, meanwhile, had Konrad Hurrell sin-binned, but did come away with a late consolation score from Eliesa Katoa.

Earlier in the day at Headingley, England Women secured a 60-0 win over a spirited Wales side, with player of the match Amy Hardcastle and Tara-Jane Stanley both scoring two tries apiece and the hosts keeping the visitors scoreless despite Vicky Molyneux being sin-binned in her last international match.

England Women 60-0 Wales Women: Hardcastle and Stanley lead the way

Two tries apiece from Amy Hardcastle and Tara-Jane Stanley set England on their way as they scored 11 tries in a ruthless victory over Wales at Headingley.

Centre Hardcastle opened England's account with two tries before further scores from Shona Hoyle and Caitlin Beevers seemingly put England out of sight at the half-time break.

Although tested by Wales at times during the first 40 minutes, Stuart Barrow's side showed no mercy in the second period, rushing over the whitewash seven more times courtesy of full-back Stanley's double alongside contributions from Lacey Owen, Georgia Roche, Tamzin Renouf, Keara Bennett and Emily Rudge.

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Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 04/11/2023 - Rugby League - Women's International - England v Wales - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - England's Amy Hardcastle touches down for a try against Wales.
Image: Amy Hardcastle played a starring role in England's win over Wales

England Women 60-0 Wales Women score summary

England: Tries - Amy Hardcastle (2), Shona Hoyle, Caitlin Beevers, Tara-Jane Stanley (2), Lacey Owen, Georgia Roche, Tamzin Renouf, Keara Bennett, Emily Rudge; Goals - Tara-Jane Stanley (7).

Wales: None.

"We had some fix-ups to do at half-time, but the girls responded really well to what we told them and we came out and looked more like we wanted to look from the start," Barrow told the BBC.

"I thought Wales really brought it to us in the first half and really challenged up, but our scramble defence showed our commitment to each other."

Hardcastle put England in front in the eighth minute, with Stanley kicking the first of seven successful conversions, and the Leeds Rhinos player had her second in the 17th minute as she was set up by Georgia Roche following a scrum.

Prop Hoyle went over under the posts after taking an offload from England captain Jodie Cunningham seven minutes later, but Molyneux's sin-binning for a high tackle in the 32nd minute saw Wales exert some pressure on England's line.

Picture by John Clifton/ - 04/11/2023 - Rugby League - Women's International - England v Wales - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England -
England's Tara Jane Stanley scores a try
Image: Tara-Jane Stanley goes over for her second try against Wales

Nevertheless, Beevers finished following an 80-metre break from Hardcastle just before half-time, with Stanley getting her first two minutes into the second half thanks to some fancy footwork which saw her open the Wales defence.

She then set up York Valkyrie clubmate and debutant Owen for her first England try, and went on to get a second as England eased home in the second half, with Roche, Renouf, Bennett and Rudge all crossing to seal a convincing win.

England men 26-4 Tonga men: Whitehead bows out on a high

Whitehead's try before retiring from international rugby helped England complete the series sweep of Tonga with victory in the last match of the three-Test series.

The hosts started the game in the same dominant fashion as they had finished the second Test in Huddersfield and ran over twice in the opening 26 minutes through centre Currie and winger Ashton before Lees and Koloamatangi were sent to the sin-bin.

England v Tonga - International Test Series - Headingley Stadium
England's Matty Ashton scores his sides second try of the game during the International Test Series match at Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Picture date: Saturday November 4, 2023.
Image: Matty Ashton dives over for an England try

England 26-4 Tonga score summary

England: Tries - Ben Currie, Matty Ashton, Elliot Whitehead, Harry Newman; Goals - Harry Smith (5).

Tonga: Try - Eliesa Katoa.

England continued to be ruthless in the second half with Whitehead's farewell try before Newman got in on the act, but England were denied a clean sheet when Katoa grabbed a consolation for the visitors in front of a series-high attendance of 15,477 fans.

"I'm very, very happy," England head coach Shaun Wane told the BBC. "Credit to the players, they just listened, delivered, trained really well and behaved well.

"It's a proud moment for international rugby in our country, so I'm very, very happy."

The hosts got the first try of the game in the 14th minute as South Sydney Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess picked a gap in the Tongan line before setting Harry Smith through and he offloaded to Currie to finish.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 04/11/2023 - Rugby League - Men's International - England v Tonga - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - England's Elliott Whitehead heading in to score a try against Tonga.
Image: Elliott Whitehead scored a try on his final international appearance as England secured a 3-0 series sweep of Tonga

England extended their advantage in superb fashion as Newman broke the line and set Ashton free in the corner and he dived over for his third try in the last two games.

After Smith kicked a penalty to make it 14-0, both teams had a player sent to the sin-bin after Lees was sent to the floor by 18th man Junior Tupoa.

The England prop was being held to the ground by Koloamatangi, who in turn had his hair pulled by Lees and that sparked a mass brawl between the two sets of already heated players.

It only took five minutes for England to open their account in the second period. They broke down the left and Tom Johnstone found Currie before he gifted Whitehead a path for his 12th international try on his 27th and final cap.

Picture by John Clifton/ - 04/11/2023 - Rugby League - Men's International - England v Tonga - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England -
Tonga’s Eliesa Katoa scores a try
Image: Eliesa Katoa grabbed a consolation for Tonga

Tonga's challenge to get back into the contest was made even harder before the hour when Hurrell was sin-binned for a swinging arm on Mike McMeeken.

Whitehead thought he had claimed his second try of the afternoon when he latched onto Danny Walker's grubber kick but the video referee adjudged him to lose control before grounding the ball.

England made their temporary man advantage count to put another score on the board after Smith's superb cross-field ball found Leeds Rhinos centre Newman and he powered over on his home ground for his first international try.

Tonga worked the ball from right to left and Katoa barged over the line to bring up their first score of the game, but it was nothing more than consolation as England wrapped up the series in style.

What's next?

England's wheelchair team take centre stage on Sunday as they face old rivals France in a rematch of last year's Rugby League World Cup final at Leeds' First Direct Arena (3.15pm kick-off).

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