The BARLA Great Britain Lions lost a tense Test Match against Toa Samoa after staging a brave fight back when 20-6 down just after the hour after leading 6-2 at the break. Two Lions in tries in four minutes by centre Scott Lofthouse (Kells) and fullback Ryan Fieldhouse (Leigh East) cut the lead down to four points but as they bravely tried to keep the ball at all times they couldnâ€™t score the next try to at least level the scores.
The Samoa side containing Tupu Ulufale and Lepupa Taualagi who played in last years World Cup literally threw the kitchen sink at the Lions through their physical forwards from the start. Lee Gudor (Siddal) was taken out after kicking on the last tackle after 40 second after the first set and the Lions were awarded a penalty. Lee Waterman (Skirlaugh) stepped up to kick the first of his four goals from five and the Lions led 2-0.
Samoa continued driving in with at times borderline tackles giving little yards to the Lions and their game plan for Gudor to kick downfield worked well. All the Lions side defended manfully especially after four minutes when a move involving Samoaâ€™s forward Tutasi Masoe and Chris Lei-Sam saw the former stopped five meters short.
The home side continued their charge and levelled the game on nine minutes when the Lions were penalised for interference at the play the ball and stand off Filo Lepou who was to also kick four goals made it 2-2 from 30 meters.
The Lions were gradually getting into the Samoa half and a second Lions penalty for flopping saw waterman make it 4-2 after 18 minutes.
The half continued hard and physical and the Lions had a half chance on 27 minutes following a superb Gary Phillips (Wigan St Patricks) break, the hooker passed it onto Fieldhouse but as he got his pass out wide the Lions couldnâ€™t take the pass
Samoa s forwards continued to drive forward with the Lions feeding on scraps losing the ball at vital times and they had a let off when Lepou kick a penalty wide. But after the Lions had lost early possession it looked like Samoa would score.
But Lee Maskill (Sharlston Rovers) produced a magnificent one on one ball steal on Masoe to drive twenty meters forward. From the quick play the ball Brett Waller (Skirlaugh) drove downfield before being dangerously tackled and dropped to the floor giving the Lions another penalty on 38 minutes and Waterman duly obliged for a four point lead at the break.
During the break the four thousand crowd were entertained to a surreal ten minute segment from the musical Grease performed by Samoan six dancers.
The Lions took the game to Samoa in the opening minutes which saw Ulufale knock on twice in quick succession but the visitors twice lost possession in good position. As often happens Samoa hit back with three tries in seven minutes which completely changed the game with the Lions hardly touching the ball or getting any possession.
On the last tackle on 45 minutes the Lions defence couldnâ€™t take a Lepou bomb and the ball bounced kindly for hooker Taualagi who zipped over in the corner to make it 6 all. Three minutes scrum half and skipper Paul Chang-Tung put in a superb grubber down the short side and winger Tanielu Pasese got to the ball just before Fieldhouse to score by the posts for a converted try. The Lions then conceded a penalty on the fifth tackle of the next set and after running the ball Lei-Sam drove over in the corner from close range Lepou adding from the touchline to give his side a twelve
On the hour a Lepou penalty made it 20-6 and the game looked gone for the Lions.
With nothing to lose the Lions went for and substitute Sam Radford (West Hull) inspired them with a 35 meter angled drive through Samoa defenders and only Ulufale last gasp tackle saving a try. The Lions then lost the ball out wide but immediately got the ball back on 64 minutes to score a superb try.
From the play the ball Gudor spun the ball out to John McMullen (Wigan St Judes) who found Fieldhouse and his pass saw Scott Lofthouse (Kells) over in the corner and Watermanâ€™s touchline effort made it 20-12..
The Lions tales were up and four minutes later McMullen and Gary Phillips (Wigan St Patricks) combined to go 50 meters downfield only for the hooker to lose his footing. From the play the ball the Lions switched direction of play and Fieldhouse took Gudors flat pass to drive through three defenders to score in the corner to leave them four points adrift.
Samoa were in a state of shock and even went for a drop goal from Afa Lesa on 72 minutes which went wide.
The Lions pressed to get downfield but lost the ball at times when desperate to keep the ball alive. As the hooter went the Lions had a scrum in their own twenty and as they kicked chased downfield Samoa took the ball and held it for a famous win.
The Unison Tour of the South Pacific now moves onto Fiji on Tuesday for two Test against the Fiji Batis
BARLA Great Britain Lions skipper Trevor Penrose,
"The first half was a great effort and we led 6-2 at half time, the second half the first ten minutes we just come out and they scored three quick fire tries which really effectively ended it for us. We had a bit of a fight back got the line speed back in the attack but couldnâ€™t just do it.
"Itâ€™s been a great experience for the lads who gave everything today as they have done all through the tour, we have grafted really hard and itâ€™s a shame when you play that well and come away without a victory its tough.
Itâ€™s hard to take Iâ€™m so upset as I was making my debut skippering the side in a Test Match but we will work hard as team and get ready for Fiji and we will bounce back against them."
Gary Charlton BARLA Great Britain Lions Assistant Coach
"We run out of time chasing the game but it was our own fault we never took our chances when we should have taken them. They scored try after try after try and we lost our composure after half time, not completing our sets. We never did anything in those opening ten minutes we just stood still, never got involved and we came out losing.
"The boys went for it trailing by fourteen points, there is a will to win in this team but we canâ€™t keep on giving silly errors and people we are asking to take control are not taking control and thatâ€™s been our downfall in this game as well as the Patriots game
"The lads gave us 110% every time but we have got to be smarter in our play and the players we expect to be smarter arenâ€™t doing it at the moment but we still go to Fiji confident and positive that we can perform against in the two test."
TOA SAMOA:1. Tupu Ulufale, 2. Tanielu Pasese 3. Chris Lei-Sam, 4. Gasolo Salima, 5. Afa Poalaga, 6. Filo Lepou, 7. Paul Chang-Tung (Capt), 8. Tile Poutoa, 9. Lepupa Taualagi, 10. Maugaloto, 11. Sio Iosefo, 12. Tutasi Masoe, 13. Maika Felise, 14. Afa Lesa, 15. Suki Fuimaono, 16. Sam Yue, 17.
Tries: Taualagi, Pasese, Lei-Sam
Goals: Lepou 4
BARLA Great Britain Lions: 1.Ryan Fieldhouse (Leigh East), 2. Carl Booth (Myton Warriors), 3. Lee Maskill (Sharlston Rovers), 4. Scott Lofthouse(Kells), 5. Danny Moss (Skirlaugh), 6. Richard George (Seaton Rangers), 7.
Lee Gudor (Siddal), 8. Aaron Bradley (Hull Dockers), 9. Gary Phillips (Wigan St Patricks), 10. Trevor Penrose Capt) (Skirlaugh), 11. Sean Foster (Wigan St Cuthberts), 12. Luke Varley (Castleford Panthers), 13. Lee Waterman (Skirlaugh), 14. John McMullen (Wigan St Judes), 15. Sam Radford (West Hull), 16. Tony Suffolk (Wigan St Patricks), 17. Brett
Tries: Lofthouse, Fieldhouse
Goals: Waterman 4
Half Time: 2-6
Referee: Danny Olford (New South Wales, Australia)
Weather: Dull, Humid Very Hot