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The Sydney Morning Herald

REILLY STILL CONFIDENT FOR TESTS

Author: DAVID HADFIE
Date: 05/06/1988
Words: 556
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 60
The word humiliation is severely overused when it comes to the business of reporting on one side beating another in a sporting contest.

But it is the only one which really comes close to describing the thrashing dished out to the Great Britain Rugby League team in Tamworth yesterday.

A 36-12 defeat at the hands of a Northern Division side, not even rated highly in their own corner of the State, was all the more debilitating for being so unexpected.

"Our blokes are no good," one gent at the Central Hotel said, with little deference to the feelings of the divisional side tucking into their breakfast nearby. "I reckon she'll be a cricket score."

On the latter point he was almost correct.

Great Britain began badly and became worse, never showing any signs of the attacking skills that had brought them four wins since leaving home.

After going 10-0 up in 12 minutes, the country boys - with only captain Rocky Laurie carrying any great reputation - gave them no rest.

Big Gunnedah prop Dave McCann, who trialled unsuccessfully for Canterbury this season, produced a display in the best Dallas Donnelly tradition.

He slipped the ball out of the tackle whenever Great Britain failed to tie his arms up, which was frequently.

That was how he set up the first try for lively second-rower Chris Cumming. Great Britain were soon playing catch-up football in conditions that did not suit them.

Fast, slippery halfback Ewan McGrady was another star, scoring two tries and often proving elusive around the scrum base.

Malcolm Reilly took 40 minutes to tell his players what he thought of their performance.

"They know how badly they played," he said.

If they didn't before his dissertation, they certainly did afterwards.

Reilly recognised immediately that the scoreline from Scully Park would have caused hoots of derision and peels of scorn down the road in Sydney.

"We just have to accept that," he said. "I'm still confident about the Tests."

None of the fringe candidates for Test selection did their chances any good at all.

Even a Test certainty like Garry Schofield laboured to do what he normally accomplishes with ease.

At 22-12 a come-back was at least feasible, but another failure to tether McCann killed that hope immediately after the break.

For Great Britain the transformation never came; indeed the tourists looked sadder and sloppier as the afternoon wore on.

Yesterday, just as the man in the Central Hotel predicted, it was time for the cricket scores.

NORTHERN DIVISION 36 (C Cumming, E McGrady 2, B Plater, M Manes tries; M Spinks 8 goals) bt GREAT BRITAIN 12 (H Gill, G Schofield tries; P Loughlin 2 goals). Crowd: 4,000.

 
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