TEAMLIST TUESDAY | Possibly the last ever - and it's the GRAND FINAL edition!
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GREAT BRITAIN 24
Great Britain have scored a sensational first win over Australia in three years to guarantee a place in the Gillette Tri-Nations Final at Elland Road on November 27.
A late Keith Senior breakaway try sealed a memorable 24-12 win as the Lions produced a performance of pure heroics at a sell-out and rapturous JJB Stadium.
The victory was no less than Brian Noble's men deserved. Despite spending long periods of a wonderful match camped in their own half they put in a performance of pure passion and not a little skill as the world champions were put to the sword.
For all that, it was Australia who took the lead on 13 minutes. Scrum-half Brett Kimmorley?s reverse kick completely bamboozled the GB defence and prolific winger Luke Rooney was on hand to take the catch and crash over on the nod of the video ref, Craig Fitzgibbon converting.
Australia looked in commanding form but on 22 minutes the Lions came scorching back. A magnificent Sean Long break was stopped just short before Paul Sculthorpe?s kick was deflected in-goal. Wigan hooker Terry Newton was on hand to win the chase to the loose ball and skipper Andrew Farrell added the conversion to level matters 6-6.
On 26 minutes, Great Britain winger Stuart Reardon continued his good run of try-scoring form by reaching out and just making the line to push the Lions in front from a terrific Farrell pass, the skipper converting from the touchline.
It was a classy effort from the Bradford youngster who had little room to work in and at least three green and gold defenders plus the touchline to beat.
A maginficent Newton tackle on Craig Wing then denied Australia a certain try after a sensational upfield break from Anthony Minichiello before the hooker spilled an unexpected Sculthorpe pass. The loss of possession could have proved costly but Brian Carney rose superbly to take a towering Kimmorley bomb into the corner.
Then came a moment of pure magic. Long to Martin Gleeson, inside to Danny McGuire, on to Newton with a final pass to tryscorer Stuart Fielden. The Bradford prop still had plenty to do but he shook off Minichiello?s attempted tackle brilliantly to crash over four minutes before the break.
Farrell converted and at 18-6 down the Kangaroos had a real fight on their hands.
Five minutes after the restart, that fightback began. Powerhouse Canterbury forward Mark O'Meley crashed over off a delighful Kimmorley short pass for a try on his international debut, the half-back converting to make it 18-12.
The Aussie defence had cranked up a gear too and Great Britain were struggling to get out of their own half. But when they did they almost scored themselves, McGuire's electric break coming to a premature end when the stand-off cut back inside instead of backing himself. Second rower Nathan Hindmarsh got back to cover and the danger was averted.
Substitute Wing was now giving the Kangaroos much greater spark in attack and Shaun Berrigan should have notched another Aussie try but his pass inside fell gently into the hands of Lions debutant Sean O'Loughlin.
Then Australia were denied by the pad on the goalpost as Farrell did magnificently to field a Kimmorley kick on the last tackle as Australia piled on the pressure.
The GB skipper then put a drop-goal attempt wide as a thrilling encounter went into overdrive and Carney chased back to kick clear with Rooney lurking ominously.
After sustaining so much pressure it was hard to believe that Great Britain were still ahead but a superb Sculthorpe kick for touch gave the Lions priceless field position with only minutes remaining.
Still the Aussies piled forward but with the seconds counting down Kimmorley chose to run the ball on the last tackle, passed to Hill and his attempted inside pass fell invitingly into the hands of Senior.
With the Australian defence pushed upfield, nobody was going to stop the big Leeds centre and when Farrell added the extras Great Britain were in the Gillette Tri-Nations final.