Ten performances that shook the world: Rugby League - Pride of Europe h umbled by the worst team from antipodean elite
Saturday 27 December 1997
The game that argued this most forcefully was not one of the monumental thrashings that British teams suffered at the hands of antipodean opposition, but the Bradford Bulls' four-point defeat by Auckland at Odsal on the second weekend of the competition.
To put it brutally, we knew that the Halifaxes and Oldhams were heading for some dreadful beatings, but the Bulls were a very different proposition: they had already established themselves as the dominant team in European Super League and they were, after all, facing the bottom side in the equivalent competition down under.
Auckland had sacked their coach, John Monie, and had proved incapable of winning games when the pressure was on. The sheer power of a Bradford team urged on by a big home crowd would be surely too much for them - and a positive result could even prove a turning point for Britain in the WCC as a whole.
When Auckland had Syd Eru sent off for a high tackle towards the end of the first half, Bradford's task looked highly manageable, despite an 8-2 deficit at the interval.
However, with too many players below their best, they struggled to get back on terms and then lost the match 20-16 to a late try from Paul Staladi.
Bradford finished up losing all six of their group games - the three away matches by big margins - damning evidence that, while they might be miles ahead of the opposition in Britain, they simply did not rate in world terms.
The quirky nature of the tournament meant that they still qualified for the quarter-finals, where they were beaten for a third time by Auckland, 62-14.
No British team reached the semi-finals, which prompted plenty of much- needed soul-searching about the shortcomings of the game here.
Bradford drew their own lessons from the humiliation. Last season's squad would have been strong enough to make them favourites for the Super League title in 1998, but they moved to address the weaknesses exposed by the WCC, signing a vastly experienced on-field general in Shaun Edwards and a middle-back of genuine pace in Tevita Vaikona.
Their British rivals might live to regret the wake-up call that Auckland gave them.
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Howard 'Mr Nice' Marks reveals he has inoperable cancer: 'I've had an incredible life'
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
- 1 Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 5 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
£12000 - £14400 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Experienced Cover Supervisor...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunity for you to jo...
£25000 - £29000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...