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.
Newman also served up a heady flick after John Bateman had held multiple defenders at bay for the latest of offloads when Matty Ashton scored in the 26th minute. Whitehead also got over the line in his final national game.
Despite his glee, coach Shaun Wane did find room for a bit of vitriol – towards former players who criticised England’s style of play during the series.
“We’ve had some ex players talking some absolute rubbish about not entertaining,” he said.
“They don’t think about Test matches, they don’t think about the weather. When all of a sudden it’s a bit dry, we score tries like that.
“It just beggars belief when I hear stupid comments from past players.”
Harry Newman Try
Woolf, meanwhile, repeated comments from match eve about him being unsure of continuing in the role when he takes over from Wayne Bennett as head coach at the Dolphins.
“I’ve got to wait and see - there’s a lot of things to consider there,” he said.
“Have I got the passion? Yes I have.
“In 12 months time I’ll be coaching in the NRL and I’ve got to figure out and see where it fits and what fits... what the calendar actually looks like and what games are scheduled is a big part of that.”
Elliott Whitehead Try
Woolf felt his team “didn’t deserve that scoreline” but said England had an advantage in the fullback, five-eighth and halfback positions.
Having given debuts to Wests Tigers’ Late Fainu and Sydney Roosters’ Suia Wong, he predicted the experiences gained during the tour would be invaluable to Mate Ma’a's new generation.
England’s day didn’t start in the best manner, however, with the team bus clipping a building as it entered the stadium.
“We need to have a good chat to him,” Wane said of the team bus driver. “Pissed me off, he did. One job - to get us here.”
Match: England v Mate Ma'a Tonga
Round 4 -
Mate Ma'a Tonga
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds