At the home of Leeds Rhinos, the newly named AMT Headingley Stadium, England wrapped up a series whitewash with a triumph over Tonga.
After some 50/50 games in the opening two tests, England were dominant against Kristian Woolf’s side at Headingley on Saturday. It somewhat undermined the notion that the conditions have worked against Tonga.
This is because, this was the cleanest conditions of the entire series and England flourished able to move the ball more freely throughout the game. This was epitomised by the tries for Ben Currie and Harry Newman which were arguably the best two tries of the entire series.
For England this performance as their best since they defeated Samoa in the opening game of the 2022 World Cup and was arguably a display which would have won the semi-final they lost last year against the same opposition.
It was also a display that underlined England as the third best team in the country ahead of Samoa. It also shows that they are maybe not that far from Australia after they lost 30-0 on Saturday. So, you would have thought completing a series whitewash would have been a talking point down under as they defeated one of the best sides down under.
But instead it was widely overlooked by most publications. The Canberra Times touched on it to pay tribute to the Canberra Raiders skipper Elliott Whitehead. They said: “Canberra Raiders captain Elliott Whitehead is the ‘epitome of a Test match player.'”
The Newcastle Herald touched on England but focused more on New Zealand and Australia. Fox League overlooked the game whilst the only other publication that were interested were NRL.com.
They continued their comprehensive coverage of the series reporting: “England have saved their best performance of the series to last with a dominant 26-4 win over Mate Ma’a Tonga wrapping up a 3-0 series victory and giving retiring forward Elliott Whitehead something to smile about in his final Test swansong.
“On their firmest pitch of the series and with George Williams back from suspension, England turned on the class with some flashy handling throughout the match. There were nine pairs of hands, a kick and a circus juggle in centre Harry Newman’s remarkable 64th minute try.”