When it was announced back in spring that Tonga would be touring England in the autumn it created great expectations of an intense three game series, however those ideations were unfulfilled with England landing a clean sweep and in comfortable fashion.
The third and final victory of that clean sweep came today at Headingley with England cruising past a sloppy Tonga side by a score of 26-4, England showing some flair in attack and once again winning the territory battle through Harry Smith’s kicking game.
Conditions were once again wet and windy and following Kristian Woolf’s complaints from the first test where he referenced the pitch conditions, he was once again asked after the game today how the Leeds weather and conditions had affected his side.
Woolf explained: “No, they haven’t been (in our favour) but that’s part of the challenge of coming over here and you know when you sign up to come and play a three game series over here in autumn, then you know that it’s probably going to be cold, it’s probably going to be wet and that’s why we came over here because we wanted the challenge.
“The easy thing for us to do would have been to stay at home and play in the Pacific Championships and we had that option, it was the easy option. We put our necks out to come over here and we knew that it would be good for us in terms of the challenge and in terms of how many young blokes we’ve got in the team that are only going to grow from this experience.”
The Tongan boss then went further as to explain why his team had opted against the easy option of playing in the Pacific Championships, revealing in fact that it was a conscious decision to head to England to try and “help out England football”.
Woolf revealed: “We also had in the back of our minds wanting to help out England football a little bit, and it needs a little bit of help at the moment, everyone can see that, and we certainly wanted to make sure we played our part.”
With an improved attendance in the final test at Headingley today of 15,477 then perhaps the English game did need the help that Tonga brought, after the first two tests fell just shy of 13,000 and 12,000 respectively.
The Tongan boss was full of praise for England though in regard to their performance at Headingly, albeit he felt the clean sweep series loss was more underserving, explaining: “As I said England deserve enormous credit, they played terrifically well. They were really, really strong tonight and sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. That was a bit of an example tonight but full credit to England.”