23rd February 2018, 11:33 | england_lions
A tough start for the Lions as a high-class Samoa side swept to a comfortable group stage win.
Samoa flew out of the blocks to rack up a 14-0 half-time lead, before extending their advantage shortly into the second half with another try.
But England began to find their feet thereafter, Orrell St James' Sam Baggaley pouncing on a loose kick before converting to score England's first try of the tournament.
Samoa went on to add another try, but England got in again as Sam Rochford of Underbank Rangers bounced over from close range to round off the scoring.
Tonga, eventual group winners, were up next in a close-run affair.
England began the game on top and got the start they deserved as Leigh Miners Rangers' Frankie Halton his way over to break the deadlock.
He converted his score to give England a 6-0 lead.
But Tonga struck back not long after to leave England 6-4 up at the interval.
As the weather began to take hold on the tie, Tonga powered forward and scored out wide despite a valiant chase back by Greg Howland.
They then added another in the closing minutes - a classy long-range effort - which left them in pole position to win the group.
England's final clash came against 2014 Commonwealth Championship winners, Papua New Guinea.
Captain Danny Ryding and vice-captain Cole Walker-Taylor were forced to sit out the final game, while Tyler Spence remained unavailable and Sam Rochford limped off after just a minute of action.
The odds were stacked against the Lions, and they looked to be heading for defeat as PNG opened scoring in torrential rain and held their 4-0 lead until half time.
But Allan Coleman's men were in inspired form in the second period and turned the game on its head.
Hit with injuries... monsoon-like conditions... what a win for the lads! pic.twitter.com/LZM6x1KYw5— England Lions RL (@lions_rl) 23 February 2018
Underbank's Owen Restall kicked things off, flying down the wing to equalise.
The Lions were running hot and Liam Quinn (Thatto Heath Crusaders) got in just a minute later, dotting down after some confusion in the PNG defence.
Then Sam Baggaley rounded off a remarkable team performance with a stirring interception try to make the final score 12-4 to England, which sets up a clash with Wales in game one of the Finals Day (1.10am kick off UK time).
That winning feeling 🏴🎶😄 pic.twitter.com/yu5XmJFniZ— England Lions RL (@lions_rl) 23 February 2018
Sam Baggaley 2
Sam Rochford 1
Liam Quinn 1
Frankie Halton 1
Owen Restall 1
Upcoming England fixture:
v Wales - 11.10am (1.10am UK time)
Day One results:
Day two fixtures: