England Women suffered late heartbreak in Papua New Guinea, as they lost to a Shirley Joe try in the last play of the game.
The visitors had started well, and scored off their first set. A great break from Rhiannon Marshall created the field position, and the ball got to Tara Stanley, who scored. She couldn’t score the conversion, but did ad a penalty shortly after to make it a six point advantage.
The Orchids, who were looking for their first test win, responded with tries from Carol Huemu and Belinda Gwassumum. Erswin Kaiat scored one of the conversions to have the hosts ahead by four points.
Before the conversion was taken for the second try, the referee put Humeu on report after England captain Emily Rudge had accused her of biting in the lead up to the try.
The first try of the second half was going to be crucial, and it was the Orchids who got it as Roswita Kapo managed to get over in the corner. Kaiat converted t5o make it a two score advantage for the hosts.
But back came England as Rudge managed to get herself over from short range. Stanley pulled the conversion wide, meaning they still trailed by six points.
The Wall of White had their tails up then and a brilliant pass from Georgia Roche set Naomi Williams on her way, and she scored. Stanley scored the conversion to level the game.
Both sides were starting to struggle in the heat and humidity, as handling errors started to creep into the game.
Just when it seemed to be heading for a draw, halfback Joe took on the line and broke free to go in under the posts. The conversion was missed, but it didn’t matter as the Orchids confirmed their first ever test win.
It was a disappointing way to end the tour for England, who would have been rueing the chances they missed, especially in the second half. But there has been plenty to work with on this tour.
As for Papua New Guinea, they will celebrate that one for a while, as the Orchids finally recorded a win, and to do it in front of their home fans would have been especially special.