Rugby League – Great Britain v New Zealand, first Test, Auckland

A fixture has caught the attention of Rugby League followers, both avid supporters of the sport and those with a casual interest. The game in question concerns the long-anticipated return of the Great Britain Lions who are on tour. The standout of that tour sees them take on New Zealand in the first test match at Eden Park.

This game takes is scheduled for a 04:00 GMT start time GMT so it will be a very early start for those planning to watch the match live. Perhaps it could be a late night, depending on your Friday night plans, of course. You can follow the play live on several respected television channels across the world or take advantage of the rugby league streaming service offered by major bookmakers.

Who Will Come Out on Top?

At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess but bookmakers have made their feelings quite clear, allowing backers to support their views with hard cash. Watching live international rugby is exciting, especially with the British Lions are out in force, but it can’t quite compare to taking in a profit while enjoying the show. Making money through your love of Rugby League and live sport, that’s about as close to a perfect scenario as possible.

We can do just that by betting on this match, taking advantage of one or two of the many exciting betting markets offered by bookmakers. If you do intend to punt on this fixture you will be spoiled for choice. Get your stake money on the winner of the tour series for an extended interest or play things a little closer to home by betting on the match. Get on the first test match winner, handicap, first try scorer, half time/full time, total points, draw no bet, half time, handicap no draw, to score a hat-trick, winning margin, half time winning margin, double chance, team to score first, to win to nil, anytime try scorer, first try scorer and plenty more besides.

All of the markets mentioned will be available between now and the kick-off and then many of the same options will remain live throughout the course of the game. That’s due to in-play betting that means you can enjoy a financial interest during the final few minutes of play as easy as you could before the first whistle, and it’s just as exciting. The odds and handicap lines are updated to match the flow of play. The more attention you pay to the live coverage the more chance you have of landing a winning bet at rugby league best odds.

Joe Philbin rugby

Philbin Has an Opportunity to Stake a Claim

Team news began to filter through this week on the big match and the rumours were it could be time for Joe Philbin to shine. The popular player was being touted in the media as a man ready to make his debut for the Great Britain Lions Rugby League debut and the general feeling was the Warrington forward was more than ready if trusted with a place in the starting line-up. He was recently drafted into the squad and looks the perfect fit to play a part in this match that will be shown live on BBC Two from 3.30am GTM with highlights run on BBC One from 13:15.

Despite disappointment for Joe Philbin when he wasn’t the first pick and didn’t travel with the original squad, he was professional enough to take a second bite at the cherry when answering an SOS sent by the coaching staff. This came after prop Luke Thompson was stretchered off with a rib injury during last Saturday’s defeat by a Tonga invitational. Thompson will now miss out on the rest of the tour but his suffering was good news for Philin who showed he was willing and able to step in.

This now represents a crucial match for the pick as if he can prove himself against New Zealand it is likely he won’t be overlooked again in future. Stars of sport are often born when they take full advantage of an opportunity and that’s what Joe has ahead of him. Fail to perform and it will go down as a failed gamble by the coaching staff but if he is able to show us what he is made of he will be rewarded by inclusion in future squads and will make headlines at the end of this match.

Confirmed Squads

New Zealand (from): Tuivasa-Sheck, Maumalo, Nicoll-Klokstad, Manu, Isaako, Foran, Marshall, Tetevano, Smith, Waerea-Hargreaves, Nikora, Bromwich, Tapine, Hughes, Harawira-Naera, Ah Mau, Blair.

Great Britain Lions (from): Lomax, McGillvary, Hardaker, Connor, Hall, Widdop, Hill, Hodgson, T Burgess, Bateman, Whitehead, Graham, Jones, Philbin, Clark, Walmsley, Hughes, Williams, Trueman, Austin.

GB Lions v Tonga

Worst Possible Start

The Great Britain Lions began their tour with a disappointing defeat against a Tonga International team on Saturday. It was an invitational XIII due to off-field problems and many connected with the Tongan official team labelled it a rebel squad, but that didn’t matter too much to the team who went out and performed admirably. The final score that day read Tonga 14-6 Great Britain Lions. The scoreboard suggested a hard-fought contest but that flattered to deceive. GB was well beaten by a better team on the day who wanted it more and as opening matches go it really couldn’t get much worse. The victors raced into an early lead and were 12-0 up at half-time.

Followers expected them to open up and score a barrel load more tries in the second period but it didn’t happen. Credit must go to Team Great Britain for tightening up and seeing the game out. The actually won the second half by a score of six points to two and, after what happened in the first half, that effort was deserving of credit. The team will look to improve on Saturday’s effort this time but their best chance of achieving that is by working on that defence and keeping things organised the way they did in the second half of the match versus Tonga.

Tonga Invitational XIII won the match thanks to tries from Jennings and Katoa. They added conversations from Taukeiaho who nailed both available before the same player showed sure footing to chip in with a penalty. The best Great British Lions could offer in terms of a fightback was a Bateman try which was converted by Widdop in the second half to give fans brief hopes of a fight-back, but it failed to materialise.

No Need to Press the Panic Button

That match was Team Great Britain’s first in over a decade and it ended in defeat. There were obvious signs of rustiness and it remains to be seen if the team will come on the front that performance at the first time of asking against New Zealand, or if many of the same problems will continue until organisers can find a way for the team to be more active. The squad is filled with talent, however, and there’s no real reason why they won’t get better with match one under their belt. Improving enough to beat an opponent as good as New Zealand is another matter.

As mentioned, it was the worst possible start for the Lions, but no one connected to the team seemed in a rush to reach for the panic button and quickly undo all the work that had led to this tour. The coaching staff were unimpressed and left feeling frustrated, but they preferred to see it for what it is – a work in progress – and better times are ahead of the players stick to the plan and keep faith. This match will show us just how many of the squad are signed up for the long haul and are serious about putting their body on the line in an attempt to make history. If they don’t want to wait another 12 years for a Lions tour, missing another generation of Rugby League players, they must give fans and the blazers back home something to get excited about.

Luke Thompson and Oliver Gildart

Bennett Rules Out Injured Duo

Coach Wayne Bennett spoke to the British press in the wake of that defeat and said just about that – there was no need to panic. The boss was quick to rule out injured duo Luke Thompson and Oliver Gildart for the rest of the series and struggled to hide his disappointment at those losses. He must make do with the best of a bad situation and that’s what we expect from the Lions. Those injuries should help rally the player pool and we should see the squad fight back for their fallen brothers, doubling their efforts and aiming to win the series.

Bennett also told fans there were a few positives to take from the day as well as the many negatives and he took pride in the way his players responded from a first-half mauling. He said the team must work on their kicking game while aiming to eliminate the unforced errors that haunted them against Tonga. Supporters will want to see a more patient and organised display.

What the Betting Says

Where to get Rugby League best odds on this match? A look through the betting shows New Zealand is betting favourite to win this match and are odds-on. That will come as no major surprise to those who watched the defeat to Tonga. Ladbrokes are offering Rugby League best odds on NZ v GB with their 4/9 quote better than the 4/11 available elsewhere.

Great Britain has been written off as 23/10 outsiders by bet365 and that’s worth keeping in mind if you intend to take a punt on the underdogs. Most firms are offering only 19/10 on the same outcome so if you can get 23/10 simply by shopping about you’ve simply got to take it. We can’t pass up value like that often.

Bet365 are known for offering Rugby League best odds and they also serve up a number of specials in this match. These include the handicap list which challenges punters to predict how many points New Zealand will win by. Traders have New Zealand -8 points at even money with Ladbrokes against Great Britain +8 points at 11/10 with bet365. Again, bet365 are rugby league best odds on the latter and that’s sure to attract a fair share of attention as the casual money begins to flood in for this match. That’s a bet that could work well either as a super single for bigger stakes or as part of a weekend accumulator.