Scheduling and refereeing came under fire after New Zealand moved to the top of rugby league's Tri-Nations tournament yesterday morning with a comfortable win over Great Britain.
The Kiwis had to work for their 42-26 victory in front of 15,568 fans at Loftus Road, leading 18-2 after 24 minutes but allowing Britain to come within four points following halftime.
The result means the British will almost certainly have to beat Australia twice to make the November 26 final. An all antipodean decider would be a nightmare for promoters.
Great Britain prop Stuart Fielden claimed forcing the home team to go into the tournament 'cold' against opposition with two Tests' practice was unfair, while coach Brian Noble said his team was disadvantaged by the 'dominant tackle' rule in vogue down under and enforced by Kiwi ref Glen Black.
"Each year, we keep getting asked to start behind," Bradford's Fielden said.
"It's like getting asked to start behind Michael Johnson by three metres, isn't it?
"The shout has got to go out: we need to be on an even keel to compete in this first game.
"It's not sour grapes, it's not excuses. We need to learn, rather than just think 'let's get some money out of this'. We need to be smart and try and plan better."
Noble said he would be contacting tournament officials this week about the amount of holding down permitted by Black, who refereed his own country because Australia refuse to play under him.
"We played all season over here with far quicker ruck speed than that,"
"I don't know if these are the rules of the competition. We'll stick four or five in ourselves if the rucks are going to be that slow.
"I've got to talk to the officials - definitely."
The big Kiwi contingent in the crowd was buoyed by tries to fullback Brent Webb and winger Manu Vatuvei in the opening four minutes with Vatuvei unlucky to be denied another by video referee Bob Connolly four minutes later.
Wing Jake Webster, 22 yesterday, got a share of the spoils in the 24th minute and any score looked possible, before centre-cum-second rower Paul Johnson streaked away for Britain's first touchdown.
Nevertheless, at 24-8 the Kiwis were in control at halftime .
Tries to centre Keith Senior and another to Bradford's Johnson made it 24-20 by the 48th minute.
At 30-26 with 12 minutes to go, New Zealand hooker Motu Tony pulled off a thunderous hit on Britain' Lee Gilmour and it seemed to awake the tourists, who finished the Test with a two-try flourish.
The players formed a guard of honour at fulltime for skipper Ruben Wiki, who made a world record 47th Test appearance, and halfback Stacey Jones who was outstanding in what he insists will be his final international appearance.
Jones, whose wife Rachelle is due to give birth to the couple's first son next month, again ruled out playing in the Tri-Nations final at Old Trafford.
"I can quash that rumour right now," he said. "It's not true."
Kiwis second rower David Solomona was reported for a dangerous throw on Britain prop Stuart Fielden in the first minute. The incident will be reviewed by a video committee on Monday.
"I know I did lift him so I'm just going to have to wait and see," Wakefield's Solomona said.
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130