SOUTH London Storm got their historic tour of Australia's Sunshine Coast underway on Thursday evening with a 48-30 defeat against Beerwah Bulldogs, despite fielding a side that included ex-Queensland Origin stars Kerrod Walters, Dale Shearer and Adrian Brunker.
The Storm are guests of the E-Banc Foundation and have been kept busy during their stay on the Sunshine Coast by their hosts at various charitable functions in aid of Leukemia and the Australian Paralympic team, but they finally got their first hit-out against Australian opposition in front of a sizeable crowd in the small bush town of Beerwah.
The Croydon-based club travelled to Australia without the bulk of their National League Three players but, thanks in part to their trio of former Origin players, still gave a good account of themselves. Man-of-the-match Aaron Russell and Shearer both grabbed a brace of tries each and former London Broncos Academy player Dave Montero also crossed the whitewash for the Storm before Beerwah, who were well led by their player-coach, former New Zealand Test forward Grant Young, ultimately proved too strong.
However, the defeat did not diminish the experience for the Storm, who were treated to an open-air banquet provided by the local community.
Tour organiser Richard Giles commented: "The hospitality we were shown by the people of Beerwah was unbelievable and is something I will never forget.
"It's always been an ambition of mine to bring a touring party to Australia, and having the opportunity of playing on the same field as the likes of Dale Shearer, Kerrod Walters and Grant Young makes the experience all the more memorable.
"We've built up a reputation of being a touring side in the past few years and plan to venture into Europe again at the end of the season, but we would also welcome the opportunity to return Beerwah's hospitality should they ever wish to visit the UK."
Souths will be special guests at a 'Diamonds and Denim' charity ball on Friday evening before concluding their tour with a fixture against Gympie Devils RLFC on Saturday afternoon.