Yates' view: Tommy Makinson's absence brought a 'what if' moment in Test defeat to New Zealand

Kenny Bromwich dives to stop a try by Jermaine McGillvary in the final minutes of Saturday's test. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz 2019. /SWpix.com
Kenny Bromwich dives to stop a try by Jermaine McGillvary in the final minutes of Saturday's test. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz 2019. /SWpix.com

One of the finest finishers in the world of Rugby League must have cut a disappointing figure as he surveyed the aftermath of the Great Britain Lions' 12-8 defeat against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.


Tommy Makinson - Super League's top try scorer this year with 23 touchdowns - suffered a shoulder injury as Saints lifted the Super League trophy last month which forced him to pull out of the end of season tour of the southern hemisphere and it begs what some may feel is a hypothetical question: Would he have done a more clinical job than fellow international Jermaine McGillvary when the winger was bundled into touch following a do-or-die tackle from Kiwi forward Kenny Bromwich.

The Lions were only trailing 12-8 with 77 minutes on the clock and a try at that stage would have levelled the scores with the kick to come.

Maybe Makinson would have gone about it in a different manner and a master at delivering the goods when the odds are heavily stacked against him but while we'll never know, BBC TV guest pundit Denis Betts insisted: ''I think McGillvary should have done better.''

It will be a moment which will haunt him for the remainder of the tour but it must be said that Great Britain were a little unlucky to finish second best points wise.

Unfortunately, ineffectual finishing and a lack of genuine pace in a number of key areas far outweighed their excellent defensive qualities.

It wasn't a game worth writing home about but not wishing to sound biased, I thought Saints Jonny Lomax, who replaced club colleague Lachlan Coote at full back, was one of few outstanding players on the park.

Super League team-mate Alex Walmsley also made one or two blockbusting runs when introduced from the bench but was one of the GB players caught napping as the Kiwis created one of their two second-half tries.

It was a bad week-end all round for lovers of the oval ball sport.

The Lions, who had suffered defeat the previous week to a Tonga International XIII, didn't lack self-confidence going into the first of the two Tests against New Zealand but fell short when it mattered most, while the over hyped England Rugby Union side were blitzed 32-12 by underdogs South Africa in the Japan World Cup Final.

Neither was I surprised by the demise of Eddie Jones' charges after the over-the-top publicity they received before and during the competition.

Reading some the daily newspapers on the eve of the final, you could easily have been lulled into a false sense of security that England only needed to turn up on the day to collect the trophy.

But in this day and age of modern technology, the players will have known what was being said back home and this will have put added pressure on them to succeed, whatever they say.

It's the old, old England story of initially putting a team on a pedestal - and then knocking them down!