‘Our discipline let us down’: Woolf howling over Tonga’s attention to detail as England wrap up series

Tonga were far from their best as they succumbed 14-4 to Matty Ashton-inspired England, who wrapped up a triumph in their historic three-match series at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium.

Fresh from their opening victory at St Helens, England looked intent on putting the series to bed from the outset on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) and had a two-try lead thanks to a pair of Ashton tries without reply in the first period. 

Harry Smith’s two penalties extended the score to 14 before Toluta’u Koula scored Tonga’s solitary try of the afternoon, which was not enough to stop England from gaining an unassailable 2-0 series lead. 

The Tongans, full of NRL talent, had hoped to be sharper after their opening defeat but actually provided a much less convincing display on a rain-soaked afternoon.

“Our discipline let us down we gave away too many penalties and when you do that you can’t win Test matches,” said Tongan coach Kristian Woolf, the Dolphins’ assistant.

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“Our last play wasn’t great but Test match footy is about getting those things right.

“You don’t get many opportunities to have a crack at their line so when you get good field position you have to make them pay a bit.

“But we’re not throwing the towel in we’ve got one game to go and a young squad so we’re only going to get better.”

England boss Shaun Wane reckoned his side had a point to prove after Woolf had questioned referee Liam Moore’s officiating in the first Test and he was left infuriated by Tongan comments.

England’s Matty Ashton scores his sides second try ahead of Tonga’s Will Hopoate. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

“I was absolutely desperate to win that game today,” he said.

“The things that have been said about my players this week and about my team, my mates really upset me so it was a massive motivator for us.

“Excuses about the ground not being right, every excuse about the ruck and our referees cheating so to prove them wrong by a firm pitch, really slow ruck and to get that two wins, I’ll be interested to see what the next excuse is.”

After Ashton had touched down for the second time, England could have had a third try soon after the break when Mike McMeeken’s kick found Tom Johnstone in acres of space but he dropped the ball with the try line at his mercy and had to settle for Smith’s penalty to make it 14-0. 

The away side were still looking for their first points of the game and almost had them when Isaiya Katoa’s dummy freed Dion Teaupa but Johnstone and Lewis brought him down to prevent a first try. 

Tonga did most of the attacking in the second period and looked to break away once again when Tyson Frizell latched onto a long kick and set Tui Lolohea free with his sights on the whitewash, but Johnstone was on hand once again to bring those efforts to a halt. 

A few seconds later, Tonga were awarded a penalty and finally had their first score of the game as the ball went through the hands and Koula was waiting on on the byline to storm over in the corner and reduce the deficit to 10 points. 

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