Controversy was one way to put the opening minute of the first Think! Don?t Drink Drive Ashes Test Match at JJB Stadium with Great Britain and Ireland?s Adrian Morley sent off after just 12 seconds for a high tackle on Robbie Kearns. The tackle, which was a very serious one, and deserved to be sent off, showed the pressure of the match, with Morley having a brain explosion.
The face in the hands in the dressing room just minutes later showed that Morley knew what he had done, and the true regret he had. He wanted to make an impact for his country, unfortunately for him he made it in the worse possible way. Still there is no excuse, we don?t want dangerous tackles like that in our game, and Steve Ganson made the right decision.
Britain, despite the shock of losing one of their ?star? players in the opening minute rallied together well putting on a great defensive effort, till Kimmorley made a break in the 11th minute, cutting across field before the Australians? swung it out wide to a lurking Phil Bailey who was hanging out in the wing, taking full advantage of the natural overall the Kangaroos have over Britain.
Gower missed the difficult conversion to see Australia stay at a 4 ? 0 lead.
Great Britain and Ireland had a chance to open their scoring in the 15th minute with a penalty kick just 15 meters out from the uprights and about 10 meters to the right, but Long, who?s kicking was pretty ordinary in the opening part of the match, sliced it wide to lead the home side behind by four. It didn?t matter though as the British and Irish went one better through Carney scoring on the wing just three minutes ater after Horne made a break only millimeters from the touch line up the other side of the field.
Horne, who was criticised for playing it safe and coming back in field, actually in hindsight played the smarter move, and allowed Long to put across the long cut out pass to Connolly, who played it cool, drawing the defenders before just pushing it across to Irish born Carney to score.
Long missed the difficult conversion to leave the score at 4 ? all.
Australia went close to scoring twice, with Lockyer first knocking it (though being ruled as hitting the ref) on when trying to kick forward to allow Mason to cross, and next with Richard Horne this time making sure Bailey went over the sideline instead of the try line.
Drop ball, just kept giving Australia brilliant field position, but to the Lions credit they rallied together well and continued to keep the Kangaroos just far enough away from the try line to keep them in the match.
A break by Sculthorpe in the power play in the 28th minute almost saw the Lions get in front, with the stand off then putting Senior and Horne in the clear, Horne over ran Senior seeing the ball go to the touch judge and see another try go begging. The Lions just made things worse for themselves with ill-disciplined play, but fortunately Farrell started stepping up in defence with some great tackles.
Didn?t matter in the end, with Lockyer putting through the slice kick for an on-side Trent Waterhouse to collect and score uncontested. Gower failed to add the extras with the Kangaroos now up 8 ? 4 after just over half an hour of play.
Both teams did have chances, but at the same time, both sides putting up some very impressive defence for the scores to remain at 8 ? 4. The tactic of the Lions in the first half was very much one up football, designed at tiring the Australian forwards, as well as attacking the Australian right wing, where Senior and Sculthorpe made a lot of yards.
The start of the second half, much like the first started with fireworks, with Crocker and Carney getting into a fist fight, which saw Crocker get sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes. With the game back to 12 players a piece, the Lions stepped up, sniffing a chance to get back into the game, and a knock on from first Webcke (40 out) and then Lockyer (5 out) gave them the field position for Sculthorpe to throw it across to a flying Keith Senior who had no problem racing over the line to level the score.
Third time is a charm for Long, with the St Helens scrum half adding the extras to give the Lions the lead for the first time in the match, up 10 ? 8 after just 50 minutes of play. Senior almost setup another try for the Lions just five minutes later after making an 60 meter break, only to give an ordinary pass to Radlinski who just could not keep control of it, losing it. The work by both sides in defence was impressive, with both outfits realising how much is on the line, however as with everything, someone had to break and that was the Australians, doing some silly actions such as not standing square at the play the ball, late flops and slowing the play the ball down.
Britain decided to take the option of a penalty kick 40 meters out, just slightly to the right of the posts, with Sean Long moving his kicking record for the game to 50% to put the Lions up 12 ? 8 with a quarter of the match to go.
A retaliation by Newton gave Australia the penalty they needed to get out of their half, and from their good attacks by Wing and Lockyer, allowed Kimmorley to just fly the pass across to Gower to score a try in the 69th minute and equalise the match, before Fitzgibbon added the extras to put the visitors in the lead again up 14 ? 12.
Gower, who was hero in the try, quickly turned to villain, knocking the ball on from the restart. Long from the scrum tried to look for a gap up the middle, but with Civoniceva ripping the ball out, an alert Lions side re-gather and flicked it out wide for Irishman Carney to score his second try for the Lions.
Deacon added the extras to put the Lions back in front by four points, but Australia hit back in style, going for the powerplay on the last tackle, Wing running up the sideline before sending it back inside for Lockyer to score just near the posts and level the game again in the 74th minute.
Fitzgibbon had no problems adding the extras seeing the Australians move ahead 20 ? 18 with only minutes left in the match. Australia then proceeded to play it smart. First Gower kicking it to the sideline to eat up time, then Australia capitalising on a Radlinski knock on to get excellent field position, forcing a line ball drop out, and then when Farrell kicked the line drop out, out on the full, Australia had a penalty kick right in front to extend their lead to 22 ? 18.
Britain had one last attempt on the final play, but their was just not enough time for them. Britain, tried their hearts out, but they had a too difficult of task, still they must feel confident for the second test in Hull where hopefully they will have a full 13 players on the field.
AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS 22 Tries: Phil Bailey, Trent Waterhouse, Craig Gower, Darren Lockyer Goals: Craig Gower 0 from 2, Craig Fitzgibbon 3 from 3 Team: Darren Lockyer (Brisbane Broncos, Captain), Shannon Hegarty (Sydney Roosters), Phil Bailey (Cronulla Sharks), Craig Wing (Sydney Roosters), Anthony Minichello (Sydney Roosters), Craig Gower (Penrith Panthers), Brett Kimmorley (Cronulla Sharks), Shane Webcke (Brisbane Broncos), Danny Buderus (Newcastle Knights), Robbie Kearns (Melbourne Storm), Craig Fitzgibbon (Sydney Roosters), Steve Simpson (Newcastle Knights), Luke Ricketson (Sydney Roosters); Subs: Petero Civoniceva (Brisbane Broncos), Trent Waterhouse (Penrith Panthers), Willie Mason (Bulldogs) & Michael Crocker (Sydney Roosters). defeated GREAT BRITAIN LIONS 18 Tries: Brian Carney 2, Keith Senior Goals: Sean Long 2 from 4, Paul Deacon 1 from 1 Team: Kris Radlinski (Wigan), Brian Carney (Wigan), Gary Connolly (Leeds), Keith Senior (Leeds), Richard Horne (Hull), Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens), Sean Long (St Helens), Stuart Fielden (Bradford), Terry Newton (Wigan), Adrian Morley (Sydney Roosters), Jamie Peacock (Bradford), Andy Farrell (Wigan, Captain), Mike Forshaw (Warrington); Subs: Paul Anderson (Bradford), Barrie McDermott (Leeds), Paul Deacon (Bradford) & Lee Gilmour (St Helens). Venue: JJB Stadium (Wigan, England) Date: Sat Nov 8 6.15pm BST, 5.15am AEST. Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens, England) Half time: Australia 8 - 4 First Try: Phil Bailey (Australia)
Leagueunlimited,com Live Updates:
By the clock: 1st min: Kickoff! The first test is underway.
NEWS: In the very first tackle Adrian Morley has hit Robbie Kearns with a swinging arm that has left Kearns in a bad way and he has had to leave the field. An explosive start to the first test with Morley sent off! Unbelieveable!
12th min: TRY - Australia. Phil Bailey has scored the first try for the Kangaroos and his first ever test try. Conversion unsuccessful with Cragi Fitzgibbon leaving the field with an injury. Australia 4-0.
18th min: TRY - Great Britain. Brian Carney scores a superb try int he corner as a British side redcued to 12 men show some true grit/ Conversion unsuccessful. 4all.
31st min: TRY - Australia. Trent Waterhouse scores after Darren Lockyer drops the ball in behind the Great Britain defensive line and Waterhouse was Johnny on the spot. Conversion unsuccessful. Australia 8-4.
HALF TIME: Outstanding first half of football with Great Britain showing a lot of pride in their jersey to only allow the Australians a slender 4 point lead at the break when the Brits are down to 12 men. Great Britain have blown at least four scoring chances with poor finishes to long movements.
41st min: Second half is underway!
49th min: TRY - Great Britain. Keith Senior scores out wide after Darren Lockyer fails to clean up a Great Britain grubber. An absolute ripper of a test match with the Brits never say die attitude keeping them in the match and in the lead with half an hour to play. Conversion successful. Great Britain 10-8.
61st min: PENALTY GOAL - Great Britain. Sean Long kicks the Brits a further two points clear and with 20 minutes left to play, the test match is one of the best in recent memory. Simply not enough superlatives to describe the action. Great Britain 12-8.
69th min: TRY - Australia. Craig Gower score what could be the match winner about ten metres to the left of the uprights after receiving a great pass from Brett Kimmorley who is playing wounded. Conversion successful. Australia 14-12.
71st min: TRY - Great Britain. Brian Carney gets a double and scores int he corner after Craig Gower made a mistake from the kickoff. Touchline conversion successful. Great Britain 18-14.
75th min: TRY - Australia. Craig Wing sends Darren Lockyer over under the posts with less than five minutes remaining in this fantastic first test. Conversion successful. Australia 20-18.
80th min: PENALTY GOAL - Australia. The Brits kick the line drop out on the full which results in a penalty directly in front. Australia 22-18.
FULL TIME: Australia scrape home in one of the best test matches in recent memory. Full credit to the Great Britain side who played all but 12 seconds of the match with twelve men and showed tremendous courage against the Australians. International Rugby League could not have asked for a better spectacle.