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The Sydney Morning Herald

FRONT-ROW BECKONS FOR ENFORCER CROOKS

Author: ALAN CLARKSON
Date: 12/06/1988
Words: 574
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 45
Fiery Great Britain forward Lee Crooks could be given a saloon passage into the second Test team after an injury to second-rower Andy Platt in Saturday's first Test at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Crooks was omitted from the first Test team basically on the grounds of fitness but he can expect a tough program leading up to the second Test at Lang Park on June 28.

Platt, a solid worker, hurt his left arm and is expected to be out of action for at least two weeks. This opens the way for Crooks to enter the Test front row and move Paul Dixon to the second-row, making the Great Britain pack even more competitive than in Saturday's 17-6 loss to Australia.

Australia's Test captain Wally Lewis has been a matchwinner many times but in Saturday's Test he played out this role in the dressingroom.

Lewis settled down the players when they came in at half time trailing 6-0 with all the signs that Great Britain would provide the upset of the decade. Given as much as 15 1/2 points start the British showed credibility had returned to their Test team.

Statistics will show Australia won the 100th Test by 11 points but there should be a postscript to say there was an element of luck.

The Australian players walked up the ramp to their dressingroom at half time depressed by their first half mistakes. All the predictions had blown up in their faces. They were in danger of being the first Australian Test team beaten by Great Britain in 14 matches.

There was plenty of tension in the room and worry over Peter Sterling's shoulder injured when he made a vain attempt to stop Great Britain captain, Ellery Hanley from scoring two minutes before halftime.

Lewis may not be everyone's pin-up boy but he has the respect of his fellow players. His dressingroom message was to the point. "We're playing with plenty of enthusiasm but with no brains," he said.

Coach Don Furner was soon going over the battle plan for the second half and it was a different looking Australian team which emerged. The players kept the ball under control and with a bigger share of possession they were able to build a solid foundation for attack. With a little more room in which to work Lewis and Sterling became more involved and set up tries.

Great Britain did not recapture their dominance of the first half when their aggressive defence made the Australian team look second rate. As coach Mal Reilly said after the match, his players could not sustain the effort.

It was of little consolation to the Great Britain team that their performance convinced even the toughest sceptics they had the makings of a very good team.

AUSTRALIA 17 (P Jackson 2 S Backo tries; M O'Connor 2 goals W Lewis field goal) bt GREAT BRITAIN 6 (E Hanley try P Loughlin goal). Crowd 24,480. Referee: F Desplas.

 
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