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Sculthope hurt as Kiwis crushed.

Great Britain coach Brian Noble's emotions were mixed last night, with praise for his team and sympathy for captain Paul Sculthorpe after the win over New Zealand.

The Lions produced a fine performance to run out 46-14 victors in the XXXX Test at Knowsley Road but success was tinged with disappointment as Sculthorpe hobbled off early on.

Saints skipper Sculthorpe was leading Britain for the first time after missing last year's Tri-Nations Series but lasted just 18 minutes before suffering a medial ligament problem that could keep him out for four weeks.

Noble said: "I'm pleased with it. We made a shaky start but we managed to put some points on them and the players' attitude was exemplary.

"It was a fiery encounter. In days gone by it would have been easy to clock off with 20-25 minutes to go but we didn't, we wanted to finish the game strong.

"I feel for Paul, he was part and parcel of setting the kind of standards we started off with tonight. The exemplary attitude was led by Paul but he will bounce back."

Two other Saints players also shone, with Sean Long helping himself to a 20-point haul that included two tries and James Graham also touching down twice on his debut.

Danny McGuire scored his first two tries for Great Britain and their were also tries for Keith Senior and another Saints debutant, Ade Gardner.

Noble added: "James Graham showed why everyone has high hopes of him and I am absolutely delighted for him.

"I also thought the other lad on debut, Ade Gardner, was very impressive and didn't look out of place.

"Paul's [Wellens] performance showed the kind of standards he sets for himself."

New Zealand opened the game brightly with a Lesley Vainikolo try but Britain responded well and the game was won by a purple patch of three tries in seven minutes early in the second half.

New Zealand's only other try came from Wigan's Iafeta Paleaaesina.

But Kiwi coach Brian McClennan felt the game was a worthwhile exercise despite not having a number of top players released by Australian clubs.

He said: "It was very hard for us, we only had two training sessions. It shows that Test football is very difficult and you have got to have that familiarity with your team-mates.

"But it gives players the opportunity to play. We really don't get enough Tests."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2006
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