Lions tour 2019: Great Britain suffer shock Papua New Guinea defeat
By Ben Proe
Last Updated: 16/11/19 12:34pm
Great Britain's winter tour ended in defeat as a stunning second-half display saw Papua New Guinea triumph 28-10 in Port Moresby.
Blake Austin's first international try and Josh Hodgson's score helped the Lions into a 10-0 lead after 22 minutes, but Edwin Ipape's converted score on the stroke of half-time gave the home side hope.
Then when Watson Boas went over for a try converted by Rhyse Martin in the second half, it sparked a run of 22 unanswered points for the hosts which led to them sealing a famous win to go with their shock victory over the same opponents in 1990.
Wayne Bennett's men were not helped by losing skipper James Graham inside 10 seconds, with the Lions' loose forward coming off worst in collision with the outstanding Luke Page and suffering a head injury.
However, they showed more spark and creativity than seen up to this point of the tour during the first half and recovered to push ahead with two tries in eight minutes towards the end of the first quarter.
The first saw Warrington Wolves half-back Austin - again lining up as an emergency winger - grabbing his first score for his adopted nation on 14 minutes when the ball was worked wide to him, having failed to finish an earlier chance.
Hodgson then found the line after darting from dummy-half and shrugging off two PNG defenders after some sustained Lions pressure, with Gareth Widdop adding the conversion.
But the last 10 minutes of the first half belonged to the Kumuls, who created two huge opportunities - making the most of the second.
The first saw Edene Gebbie denied by the video referee after an incredible dive for the left corner before a sensational score from interchange man Ipape, who exploded away from dummy-half and left the Great Britain defence trailing in his wake.
That score, converted by Martin, put the hosts in the ascendancy and Michael Marum's side closed in on a huge upset with three tries in 10 minutes early in the second period.
Doncaster half-back Boas beat Jermaine McGillvary to a superb Gebbie kick to get the ball rolling for the Kumuls on 46 minutes, followed by Kyle Laybutt's grubber being touched down by Justin Olam seven minutes later.
Leeds Rhinos back row Martin's conversion put the hosts two scores clear and when Alex Johnston crossed five minutes later, Papua New Guinea led 22-10 going into the final quarter.
Events rapidly unravelled for the Lions and with 15 minutes to go, a knock-on by Jonny Lomax from Laybutt's kick was punished when Nixon Putt claimed Papua New Guinea's fifth score.
That and the conversion put the seal on what was only the Kumuls' second win against the Lions, who finish a nightmare tour with four losses from four games. The Port Moresby party, though, will last long into the night.