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England 22-18 Tonga: Highlights, talking points and player ratings

England overcame a tough challenge as they muscled their way to a 22-18 win over Tonga  

A Tom Johnstone brace, as well as tries from Man of the Match Mikey Lewis and Toby King were enough to edge past the tourists in a physical encounter at St Helens.

The sides now move onto the John Smith’s Stadium next week, with England hoping to clinch the series with a win in West Yorkshire.


England draw first blood

A fantastic break from Hull KR’s debutant Mikey Lewis brought England within striking distance of the Tonga line, and quick hands through the backs got the ball out to Wigan Warriors Toby King, who strolled to the line unopposed to score.

Tonga hit back

A string of penalties saw Tonga march up the field; and they made England pay for their ill-discipline as Starford Toa crossed in the corner

Tonga take the lead

The Islanders really grew into the game, and they took the lead in the 25th minute through Tyson Frizell. A clever grubber kick from Huddersfield Giants halfback Tui Lolohea caused havoc in the back field and Frizell pounced onto the ball to put the tourists in front.

Mikey Lewis adds England’s second

He was pivotal in the first try, but now Mikey Lewis found himself on the scoresheet. The Hull KR half danced through the Tonga defenders to dot the ball down for his first try for England.

Katoa gets his second off the tee

Tonga halfback Katoa brought the tourists level as he added his second goal of the half.

Tom Johnstone puts England back in front 

The first 15 minutes of the second-half saw the sides exchange blows (quite literally at one point), but it would be the hosts who broke the stalemate. Newly appointed captain Jack Welsby sent a looping pass out wide for Tom Johnstone, and the Catalans winger made no mistake as he slid over.

Johnstone at the double

Not content with one try, Tom Johnstone intercepted the ball on the halfway to scamper in for his second of the afternoon.

Tonga get one back

Just as the game looked to be getting away from them, Tonga added some extra spice to the final exchanges as Tolutau Koula dived over in acrobatic fashion to bring his side back to within four points.

Talking Points: 

Even at the interval 

The sides went into the sheds all square at 12-12, and this was probably justified.

Mikey Lewis 

The Hull KR halfback was probably the best player on the pitch in the game. His break was pivotal in Toby King’s try, and he also got one himself in the first half.

Matching physicality

Prior to this first test, much was made of the Tongan physicality and size; however England showed they could more than match the tourists with several pack players putting in some solid work through the middle.

A great start to the series

The game was a true test of character for England against a physical Tongan outfit, but they got through it. The series is now evenly poised as the action moves to the John Smiths.

Welsby’s reign off to a flying start 

Newly named skipper Jack Welsby couldn’t have wished for a better start to his time as England captain. On a personal note he provided a beautiful assist to Johnstone, and from a Captain’s view you always want to get a win.

Player Ratings: 


1: Jack Welsby-7

2: Tommy Makinson-6

3: Toby King-7

4: Harry Newman-6

5: Tom Johnstone-8

6: Mikey Lewis-9

7: Harry Smith-7

8: Tom Burgess-6

9: Daryl Clark-7

10: Matty Lees-6

11: John Bateman-6

12: Elliott Whitehead-7

13: Victor Radley-6


14: Danny Walker-6

15: Morgan Knowles-6

16: Chris Hill-6

17: Mike McMeeken-7


1: Will Hopoate-6

2: Starford Toa-7

3: Will Penisini-6

4: Moses Suli-6

5: Tolutau Koula-7

6: Tui Lolohea-7

7: Isaiya Katoa-7

8: Addin Fonua-Blake-6

9: Siliva Havili-6

10: Moeaki Fotuaika-6

11: Tyson Firzell-7

12: Keon Koloamatangi-7

13: Felise Kaufusia-7


14: Dion Teaupa-6

15: Tevita Tatola-6

16: Haumole Olakau’atu-6

17: Hame Sele-6

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