It was a heartfelt plea. "Massacre us again, will you?" said Andy Farrell to the assembled press. Unfortunately, that will not be possible, because Farrell and his Great Britain side, after all the criticism they took in the wake of their limp display at Wembley, will be heroes his week. Deservedly so, because turning around their fortunes so completely in seven days would be a memorable effort from any group of sportsmen.
If one player epitomised the transformation, it was Paul Broadbent. The Sheffield prop, pilloried after his performance a week earlier, was outstanding at Old Trafford, putting in 66 minutes of uncomplicated, uncompromising graft that wore Australia down before he crept off, justifiably exhausted.
"I didn't think I was treated fairly at Old Trafford. After I made a bad mistake, I was taken off before I had a chance to make up for it and then I was rubbished all week," he said.
"I was determined to make up for it - and the way we went at them drove them back and showed that they were only human. The feeling when the final hooter went and we'd won was the best of my life, but it will be three times as good if we can do it again at Elland Road."
Apart from the central struggle between Laurie Daley and Farrell - decisively won by Farrell, whose 16 points were a record for a British player against Australia in this country - there were a whole string of British players who rose above any apparent limitations to make mighty contributions to this victory.
There were plenty of hearts in mouths as soon as Paul Atcheson was named at full-back, but he was a model of security, as well as a dangerous counter- attacker, throughout.
His inclusion enabled Jason Robinson to return to the right wing. That was where he scored his second-half try, although his incursions all over the field were a major factor in keeping Australia on the back foot. James Lowes got his game going at acting half, while Adrian Morley and, when he came on, Simon Haughton, added thrust to the British forward effort.
The collective quality of Britain's discipline was worth points in the bank. Apart from Bobbie Goulding's haymaking reaction to what he clearly thought was a gouge, Andy Goodway's side kept their cool throughout 80 steamy minutes of genuine Test rugby.
Even when Farrell misbehaved by knocking the ball out of Wendell Sailor's grasp, it was the Australian player's over-reaction that drew the penalty. That was one moment - the other being when Darren Smith muffed a potential equalising try six minutes from time - when we knew from the stands that it was going Britain's way.
The main offender in the indiscipline stakes was, by a long way, Australia's Gorden Tallis, an explosive, uncontrolled forward who could already have been sent off for high tackling before he was either placed on report for another shot or, eventually, sin-binned for dissent.
If referee Phil Houston was weak, then it will be no surprise that the League matched him by clearing Tallis of any charges yesterday. A cynic might conclude that, fine player though Tallis is, Great Britain want him on the field next Sunday.
What they want most of all is a repeat of the controlled fire and fury that overwhelmed Australia and they will have to summon it up without the stimulus of people who have never laced a boot telling them what a heap of manure they are.
The man from sponsors British Gas made a pun about energy as he presented Farrell with his man of the match award. "There's not much energy left," said Britain's captain. The hope is that there is enough for Elland Road - and the spark to ignite it.
GREAT BRITAIN: Atcheson (St Helens); Robinson (Wigan), Radlinski (Wigan), Newlove (St Helens), Hunte (St Helens); Farrell (Wigan), Goulding (St Helens); McDermott (Bradford), Lowes (Bradford), Broadbent (Sheffield), Joynt (St Helens), Morley (Leeds), Sculthorpe (Warrington). Substitutes used: Haughton (Wigan), Forshaw (Bradford).
AUSTRALIA: Lockyer (Brisbane); Nagas (Canberra), Ettingshausen (Cronulla), Mullins (Canberra), Sailor (Brisbane); Daley (Canberra), Gower (Penrith); Stevens (Cronulla), Walters (N Queensland), Thorn (Brisbane), Adamson (Penrith), Tallis (Brisbane), Smith (Brisbane). Substitutes used: Kearns (Perth), Greenhill (Cronulla), Richardson (Cronulla).
Referee: P Houston (New Zealand).Reuse content