BRISBANE: Australian captain and Man-of-the-Match Wally Lewis launched
a stinging attack on Great Britain's dangerously high tackling after Australia
clinched the Ashes with a 34-14 victory in the second Test at Lang Park last
"They would do better in Test matches if they tried to tackle around the
legs and not knock our heads off," an irate Lewis said in an otherwise happy
"We had to take it on the nose all night and still come up with a win
without retaliating," he said.
A bitter war of words erupted over Lewis's claims which Malcolm Reilly,
the Great Britain coach, labelled as 'whingeing".
"There was high tackling on both sides ... if that's what the Australians
are saying it sounds like whingeing.
"Our blokes copped plenty too. And the Australians, I can tell you, were
guilty of a lot of provocation.
"It was something the referee (Frenchman Francis Desplas) didn't worry
about too much. But we certainly felt like getting back at them."
Lewis himself was a victim of a blatant late and high tackle when he set
up centre Peter Jackson for a try in the 21st minute.
English fullback Paul Loughlin laid Lewis out, but the referee and touch
judges did not react.
English halfback Andy Gregory, otherwise one of the best English players
in a beaten team, seemed to have penchant for going high. And forwards and backs
followed him alike.
Five minutes from the finish Gregory was sent to the sin-bin for 10
minutes- effectively for the remainder of the game - after he again tackled high
on winger Andrew Ettingshausen.
Australian Rugby League chairman Ken Arthurson said he too was worried
about "a lot of high tackling in the game".
He agreed one of the problems of having a neutral referee who could not
speak English was the fact that scrums deteriorated and players could not
"But to be fair, he did not show any bias," Arthurson said.
The often brutal Test will be remembered for some superbly conceived and
taken tries and a committed Great Britain who made it clear they were prepared
to shed blood to win.
From the opening whistle they made it clear the blood was Australia's.
Lewis led the way in a performance that featured all his toughness, skill
and cool reading of the play.
Prop Sam Backo wasn't far behind him, warming up after a quiet opening
with some damaging runs that took a large toll of the British defence.
Lock Wayne Pearce, half Peter Sterling and fullback Garry Jack were other
great Australian players.
England mixed the occasionally skilful with the harmful, and half Andy
Gregory had the mixture perfect.
Prop Kevin Ward, second-rower Andy Platt until injured, and skipper Ellery
Hanley were others to try hard.
Australia led 18-4 at halftime as the Britons showed they were prepared to
give blood in the Test - Australian blood.
Head-high tackles, late tackles and swinging arms were rife.
Loughlin and centre Phil Ford, in particular, were lucky to stay on the
While the visitors were concentrating on getting physical, the Australians
were concentrating on playing football.
The result was three first-class tries and the Test series was as good as
They took a good grip on the Test at the 20th minute with a superb try.
Lewis's attempted grubber kick rebounded off an English leg but the
quick-thinking Lewis picked up the ball and ran into the gap.
It was a simple matter to position centre Peter Jackson to score near the
Lewis was flattened by Loughlin after he passed the ball and lay
motionless for nearly a minute but neither touch judge made a report.
O'Connor's successful conversion was a formality.
Australian left the best until near halftime in one of the great Test
The ball was spun along the line 40m from the Great Britain goal until it
Giant prop Sam Backo made a half-break before finding Lewis doubling
The five-eighth dummied and ran deep into the quarter before propping and
firing a selective pass to Jack, who in turn got a great pass to Ettingshausen,
who beat his opposite to cap a great movement in the corner.
O'Connor's attempt hit the upright.
When they weren't attacking heads, Great Britain showed they could play
football and tried to introduce set moves directed towards Offiah's wing.
Lewis later quelled speculation about his future as Australian captain by
saying: "Playing for Australia is the ultimate.
"My last time playing for Australia is when the selectors decide I'm not
good enough anymore.
"We could have been a little bit better," said Lewis, ever the
perfectionist, pointing to the falling down of discipline and dropped ball at
Speaking of his determination to make the series a clean sweep, Lewis
pointed to the 24-15 close call on the 1986 Kangaroo tour.
"I've got them (memories of the tour). I'm sure Don (Furner, the
Australian coach) has, too. We expect a little bit more desperation from
Furner agreed with Reilly's assessment that Australia's forwards laid the
groundwork for the victory.
"We did everything to win and it would have taken a great side to beat us
tonight," Furner said.
"The boys didn't make any mistake and their defence was outstanding."
The Lang Park parochialism came to the fore before a ball was kicked off.
Nobody knows who was responsible for it ... but the message was clear.
On the electronic scoreboard was the message: Bullfrog - shame our
favourite No 7 isn't here.
Bullfrog is a nickname given to Canterbury-Bankstown chief executive and
NSW and Australian team manager Peter Moore. The No 7 was an obvious reference
to Queensland's popular player and halfback, blond haired Allan Langer.
Despite the "dig", Australia's long serving halfback Peter Sterling, had a
marvellous game behind a winning Australian forward pack.
AUSTRALIA 34 (M O'Connor P Jackson A Ettingshausen S Backo W Pearce W
Lewis tries; M O'Connor five goals) bt GREAT BRITAIN 14 (P Ford M Offiah tries;
P Loughlin three goals). Referee: F Desplas. Crowd: 27,130.