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The Sydney Morning Herald

LIONS SHOCK AUSTRALIA TO LEVEL SERIES

Author: John MacDonald
Date: 26/06/1992
Words: 851
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 70
MELBOURNE: Great Britain made first the improbable and then the impossible gloriously true when they humiliated Australia at Princes Park last night.

The Lions won the second Test 33-10 to square the series and make next Friday night's Test at Lang Park the decider.

It wasn't last night's win which shocked, though the Lions started rank outsiders. It was the completeness of their performance and victory.

The last comparable drubbing was Britain's 40-17 Test win in 1958, and that Lions team is often rated the best in history.

When Britain went into an early 10-0 lead, the thousands of British fans in the 31,000 Princes Park crowd began singing Always Look On The Bright Side, then Here We Go, and midway through the second half this had changed to You'll Never Walk Alone.

Most joyous of all was British captain Garry Schofield. "There's no prouder Englishman in Australia," he said.

Schofield has not only had to endure multiple past losses to the Australians, but also rumours of a rift with the selected tour captain, Ellery Hanley, now injured.

Schofield was man-of-the-match in his favoured five-eighth position, and captain to boot.

There were twin themes in the British dressing room: the joy of a victory no-one had imagined except themselves, and the emphasis that the job was only half done.

"I told the lads 'We've got to believe in ourselves' before we went out,'the Lions skipper said.

"We showed everyone Englishmen can play the full 80 minutes.

"Our forwards were tremendous. Paul Harragon didn't last too long this time," he said of the Australian prop the Lions love to hate.

British lock Phil Clarke, one of his team's best, said of the crowd: "It felt as though we were playing at home. The support was tremendous.

"Size isn't everything, it's the will to win," he said of the way the lighter, more mobile Lions tamed the Australian heavies.

Coach Malcolm Reilly was delighted. "The real beauty is the lads now know they can get better if they work at it."

Then on the other theme: "The job's not finished yet. We've got to eradicate the mistakes from the second half."

Clarke: "There's no point in winning tonight if we don't win next week."

Clarke, prop Andy Platt with his hard yakka, and hooker Martin Dermott with his selection of runners and judicious dummy-half runs laid the platform for success.

Behind them, halves Shaun Edwards and Schofield were able to pick their moments, and their excellent timing complemented their recognised flair.

Australian coach Bob Fulton did not search for excuses.

"They played super," Fulton said of the Lions. "And we dropped the ball 20 times. You can't do that.'

Surprised? "No. We knew what they were capable of."

Had the win set the series up?

"Unfortunately. A premiership coach would be ecstatic with a performance like that. They only dropped the ball eight times."

The Australian selectors had intended naming the third Test team last night in anticipation of an easy win, but the selection has now been delayed until tomorrow night.

This was one of the worst Australian performances in memory. Almost all our players had bad nights.

The Lions were superb. They adjusted their tactics to the drizzle and slippery ground, and their mobility, sure handling and committed defence did the rest.

The portents were there when Schofield beat Peter Jackson early and only a diving Rod Wishart tackle prevented Martin Offiah from getting away.

Then a typical Australian handling error allowed the Lions possession and Clarke beat Paul Sironen and Harragon in a 25m dash to the line.

Next Edwards broke away, chipped ahead and Paul Newlove won the race to the ball.

The score 16-0 was improbable. The score 22-0 before half-time was impossible, surely?

Not when another Australian handling error allowed Schofield to grubber-kick and win the race after Andrew Ettingshausen slipped over.

A Schofield field goal just after half-time meant two Australian tries in four minutes were never going to be enough, and the Lions, seemingly slowing to a walk, posted two late tries of their own.

Wishart is out of the decider with another hamstring injury.

Great Britain, of course, are feeling no pain.

GREAT BRITAIN 33 (Phil Clarke, Paul Newlove, Garry Schofield, Graham Steadman, Martin Offiah tries Paul Eastwood 6 goals Schofield field goal) bt AUSTRALIA 10 (Bob Lindner, Chris Johns tries Mal Meninga goal) at Princes Park. Crowd: 31,005. Referee: Dennis Hale (NZ).

 
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