Australian coach Bobby Fulton could probably fast-forward through the
video-tape of last night's 14-10 Great Britain victory against Queensland
Country in Townsville.
He certainly won't show it to his team lest it engender any confidence or
arrogance leading into next week's Test match.
As Queensland Country coach Ross O'Reilly put it, the Lions certainly have
a lot of work to do before they meet an Australian Test side.
The Brits were down 6-4 at half-time, but two quick tries early in the
second half should have provided the impetus for a runaway victory.
Instead, they became bogged down with undisciplined play, ridiculous
forward passes and numerous head-high tackles.
Referee John Willey was busy, and the penalty count was 17-7 in favour of
For the promotion of the Test, Australia can only hope Great Britain were
using the match as a means to get used to the controversial Queensland ball, the
hard fast ground or to recover from jet-lag.
But coach Malcolm Reilly was offering no excuses. He praised the
Queenslanders for their surprisingly good form and audaciously suggested his
team performed and tackled well.
When asked if he were joking, Reilly simply walked away.
To be fair, the side which took the field will not in any way resemble the
However, as a show of the Lions' supposed new-found depth, the performance
was sadly lacking.
Only workhorse lock Billy McGinty, prop Ian Lucas in his first game back
after breaking an arm three months ago and five-eighth Shaun Edwards really
Winger John Devereux, who was highly praised by former Hull coach Noel
Cleal, was replaced after several errors, including missing a bomb which led to
Queensland's sole try to centre Peter Hamilton.
Paul Newlove, who took his place, was strong on the flank and could have
enhanced his claims for the vacant wing position, with Martin Offiah, who was
waterboy last night, claiming the other.
A big worry confronting Reilly is the lack of a reliable goal-kicker and
the easy containment of his forwards by sliding defences.
Only one goal from three attempts was converted by second-rower Graeme
Hallas, the other points coming from tries to Edwards, McGinty and Devereux.
Centre Kevin Ellis, the ever present Edwards and fullback Joe Lydon all
missed easier previous attempts.
Lydon was lucky not to have been sent off after a blatant swinging
head-high tackle which flattened Queensland winger Gerard Kerr late in the first
In a case of mistaken identity, the referee called out Ellis for a warning
Halfback Andy Gregory, who has not lost any of his flamboyant
communication skills with referees, was also replaced in the second half.
Denis Betts, who came on during the break, was vigorous in defence and
chimed into the back line to create occasional overlaps out wide.
However, the Lions simply failed in the final execution of many
opportunities, especially late in the match when the tiring Queensland defence
was often exposed.
Meanwhile, Great Britain officials have slammed the Australian Rugby
League for its poor promotion of the forthcoming three-Test series.
Officials said the scheduling of a Canberra club match one day after
playing the touring Lions was appalling and an injustice to international rugby
They have scheduled an urgent meeting this morning to review their
preparation leading up to the first Test at the Sydney Football Stadium on June
Assistant coach Phil Larder , who said the British were doing their part
by having brought out a more than competitive team, said Australian
administrators were not doing international rugby league a fair service.
"It's appalling that we are flying down to Canberra just a week before the
Test match only to find Canberra are playing their club match the next day,"he
"Such a thing wouldn't be allowed to happen in England, our clubs are
proud of playing the touring Kangaroos. You people have to realise we're
competing against the other major sports, and rugby league has to get
credibility and importance has to be placed on international league.
"The Australian Rugby League should be doing far more promotion for the
Test series to ensure it is successful."
GREAT BRITAIN 14 (John Devereux, Billy McGinty, Shaun Edwards tries; Kevin
Ellis goal) bt QUEENSLAND RESIDENTS 10 (Peter Hamilton try; Gerard Kerr 3
goals) at Townsville Sports Reserve. Crowd: 4000. Referee: John Willey.