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The Sydney Morning Herald

IRON MIKE INSPIRES WALLY'S KNOCK-OUT BLOW

Author: Roy Masters
Date: 28/06/1988
Words: 733
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 76
BRISBANE: There was a famous dentist renowned for the speed of his quick extractions.

He would seat a patient in his dentist's chair and say: "This won't hurt. Did it?"

In exactly three seconds of the first half of last night's Rugby League Test, Australia's Wally Lewis performed the same type of operation on Great Britain.

It was the 20th minute.

Australia were leading 8-4 and Lewis grubbered ahead, regained a difficult bouncing ball andinstantly looped it to Peter Jackson who scored.

The O'Connor conversion brought the score to 14-4 and Australia were never a chance of losing the game or the series.

Lewis's knock-out blow was inspired by heavyweight champion 'Iron' Mike Tyson's 1min 31s devastation of Michael Spinks.

Lewis attended the fight at Brisbane's Festival Hall and afterwards said: "I hope we can come out like Tyson tonight."

While Lewis and his teammates readied themselves for the Test in their Lang Park dressingroom, Australia's coach, Don Furner, took a lonely walk to a distant section of the Frank Burke stand.

He said: "The boys are very quiet and I don't want my worries to rub off."

He then confessed to three.

"I'm scared England will grubber to Offiah's wing.

"I cannot understand why they didn't do that in the first Test.

"I'm also worried about Ellery Hanley's switch to the centres.

"Out there he is just as likely to throw a ball over his head and it could fall into someone's hands.

"My third worry is the scrums.

"England walk the scrums and we haven't a specialist tight head prop. Backo and Daley are both open side specialists."

Then almost as a postscript Furner said: "Wally bludges a bit so I've told him to get up in the line on the third and fourth tackle and punish them a bit."

The combination of Lewis's intense desire, inspired by the Tyson victory, and Furner's shrewd move to involve him more meant the talented five-eighth dominated the game.

He was awarded Man-of-the-Match.

True to Lewis's hopes the game started with the intensity of a title fight. There were savage tackles, the sound of tendons popping like cracker night and the sight of the ball spewing everywhere.

Only when Lewis's knockout punch came in the 20th minute did the match assume an air of inevitability.

Furner was correct in his pre-match concerns. Great Britain were only dangerous when they grubbered for Offiah or Hanley made a break.

But this was all too rare because their halfback Andy Gregory played like a seventh forward and didn't move the ball wide.

Furner's fears about the scrums were justified when the crowd was treated to the embarrassing sight of two packs walking 10m away from the referee because they couldn't understand his French instruction to hold the mark.

Standing with the beer-swilling crowd on the Hill was English forward Lee Crooks.

He escaped the English contingent who were on a beer ban.

When a vicious brawl broke out in the 59th minute, Crooks was vehement in his criticism of an Australian forward.

But the generous crowd appreciated Crooks's loyalty and one voice said: "Give him a break. He only stole a loaf of bread."

Lewis was equally critical of the English replacement Darren Wright who punched him in a tackle.

Within ear shot of the Hill crowd, Lewis kept challenging Wright to run with the ball. He didn't.

Wright must have also seen the title fight and decided to take the Spinks's option and go out quietly.

After all, there is still plenty of Australian sunshine for this English team to enjoy and the 27,000 crowd has meant the players will receive a generous bonus.

Just like Spinks wants to spend his $A17 million, why risk a bonus to take Lewis on toe to toe?

For if Lewis can fight as well as he plays football, Wright would find there would be no need visiting that famous dentist.

Wright would have no teeth to extract.

 
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