IT WAS a game of blood and thunder tackles and nip and tuck scoring, but in the end the UK Armed Forces rugby league team’s first win at the Festival of Rugby league World Cup came down to a few moments of magic.

The brace of tournament debut tries from SAC Sam Breeze saw the into half time with a commanding 20-12 lead and sealed the tries in the second half for the UK team as the won 40-30, but it was Gnr Ben Rowan’s 75th minute try saving wonder tackle that will live long in the memory.

The tackle, which halted the powerful run of Logan Afoa after the ball had been conceded on right wing, may be the catalyst that sparks the team into securing a third place overall from Friday’s third and fourth place play off clash.

Full back Afoa was approaching the half way line with Rowan the last player to halt a certain try with the scores posed at 34-26, but a massive hit which released the ball saved the day.

Rowan said: “I just thought if he goes through it’s a score, my shoulder hit and the ball spun free, everyone was saying afterwards that it was a game changing tackle, but I just had a burst of adrenaline and thought I have to stop him.

“Over all they were a strong side who didn’t give up for the full 80. We were a bit flat after the break, but their score sparked us into action. We completed our sets in the first half, did the simple stuff right, and it’s just great to have got the win.”

The UK team got off to a flying start they opened the scoring with an unconverted try through Sgt Lee Queeley in the second minute and they further extended their lead eight minutes later when Chf Tech Garry Dunn, using all hit experience from the last three Forces World Cups slotted a low pass to Pte Micky Hoyle who, on a long dash on the left, ran in to score with Rowan kicking the extras.

The Kiwis wasted a glorious chance on minutes later, before Afoa got on the score sheet after 28 minutes, following good work from Steve Ratima and Tiatoa Teariki for 10-6.

From the restart SAC(T) Jordan Andrade ran over, before Breeze was put through by the powerful ?? to score with Rowan slotting over the extras for 20-6.

The scoring finally ended 20-12 at the break following a superb dummy from Teariki caught the sleeping UK team with Matt Cole converting.

What looked to be the perfect start to the second half as Andrade set up Cpl Steve Wicks to score, with Rowan converting, was halted after the Kiwis scored minutes later as good pressure saw Tevita Faukafa slide over on the right.

Dunn then kept his team’s noses in front punishing some poor defending, receiving a pass from Flintham cut inside, dummied and dived home.

Winger Sgt Si Wray then kept up his try a game record in the tournament to make it 34-16 with Ryan Letterman going over in between for New Zealand.

With 15 minutes left the game looking safe Faukafa ran in a good try to make it 34-22 with Nicholls converting, he then set up Afoa, but the vital extra points were not taken and with Afoa dropping the ball when placed to score moments later, it was down to Breeze to burst over and seal it, with Hoyle kicking home from in front of the posts.

Breeze said: “The whole team improved massively today, defence needs addressing, but overall the team was a lot better.

“For me I am over the moon with it all, two tries and a win on my world cup debut, you cannot argue with that.”

UKAFRL face New Zealand in the third and fourth place play off at Wentworthville on July 14 KO ?? local time.

You can follow the team’s progress on Facebook at: United Kingdom Armed Forces Rugby League or on Twitter: @UKArmedForcesRL with full game highlights on YouTube at: ukafrl2017.