Fullback Brent Webb scored one try, set up one and saved another as New Zealand beat Britain 18-14 in a Tri-Nations rugby league test at Jade Stadium yesterday.
Webb darted 90m through weak British tackling to score New Zealand's opening try in the 27th minute, then stripped the ball from Britain standoff Danny Maguire in the 46th minute to deny the Lions a try which might have tied the score.
Motu Tony's try in the 13th minute of the second half increased New Zealand's margin, propelling them toward their first win in three matches after 30-18 and 20-15 losses to Australia.
Iosia Soliola ran off a Webb pass to score in the 66th minute to make the game safe for New Zealand. Britain looked rusty in its first match in this year's series.
Rather than fading because of a lack of match fitness, however, Britain produced its best passage of play in the last five minutes, scoring tries through Paul Wellens and Gareth Ellis to cut New Zealand's margin.
Webb's performance, which mixed brilliance with basic errors, was representative of New Zealand's play. The Kiwis had moments when individual talent or strong combination made them dangerous, but mistakes and a game plan which was often one-dimensional limited their effectiveness.
"We were desperate, we wanted the win and we got it," said Kiwis captain Reuben Wiki, who ended the match with his head swathed in bandages. "We believed in each other, we stuck by each other and that got us home."
Britain's performance was as mediocre as New Zealand's and neither side looked a threat to Australia, who have opened its Tri-Nations campaign with successive wins.
"We weren't clinical enough in their 20," Britain captain Jamie Peacock said. "We were shocking really. I was very disappointed with our performance. We didn't handle the pressure. That's what test matches are all about and we fell short."
Abrasive Britain prop Adrian Morley made his mark on the game after only two minutes when he was placed on report by Australian referee Paul Simpkins for a head-high tackle on Wiki.
Morley was further penalized later in the match for a punch at the tackle on scrumhalf Stacey Jones.