MELBOURNE: Great Britain made first the improbable and then the
impossible gloriously true when they humiliated Australia at Princes Park last
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
"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
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
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 score 16-0 was improbable. The score 22-0 before half-time was
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).