Shaun Wane’s England are facing a fearsome Tonga side in the second test of this historic three match series, knowing that a win will secure a series victory, whilst a loss for England would mean a decided in the final clash at Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley stadium.
Following victory in the first test at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium, of which almost 13,000 fans turned up to watch their national heroes, it was understood that ticket sales for Huddersfield’s John Smiths’ Stadium had been strong.
The attendance for this second test has now been confirmed by BBC Sport commentator Matt Newsum with a reported 11,210 fans inside Huddersfield’s home ground to witness Wane’s side take on Tonga. Whilst it’s far more than the mid-season friendly against France at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium, it’s a subpar audience for what the RFL had presumably hoped.
Earlier in the week Serious About Rugby League had learned that ticket sales were looking to be on par with the crowd that turned out for game one, whilst those for the third test at Headingley had been selling far better with seated tickets ‘thin on the ground’. With almost 1,800 less fans than the first test it will likely be a figure that disappoints fans.
Those fans who did attend got to see an England victory with Shaun Wane’s side having scored early and late in the first half to effectively secure the game, and with it the series. It was Warrington Wolves’ debutant Matty Ashton who bagged both those tries, the first from a smart Victor Radley cut-out pass, whilst he second came after he was first to a clever Mikey Lewis kick.
Wigan’s Harry Smith had missed one of the conversions but having slotted a penalty it meant that the Tongans went in 12-0 down, a stark contrast to the first clash which saw the teams head to the dressing room at 12-12. The next score would be crucial and it was again from the boot of Smith as England took a penalty early in the second half to make it a three score game.
From that point on England seemed to try and defend their lead as opposed to extending it and Tonga did look like creating a comeback of sorts as they scored in the corner through winger Koula, however departing St Helens man Will Hopoate couldn’t convert.
What followed was a final twenty minutes in which both sides played out somewhat of a stalemate, although Tonga did command more territory during the second forty as they held on to win 14-4 and secure the series.