Rugby League: Currier fires British record

Click to follow
The Independent Online
France. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Great Britain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48

AN under-prepared and much- changed Great Britain squad, assembled only the day before leaving, proved too strong for France here yesterday. Malcolm Reilly's enforced gambles paid off handsomely as Britain powered to victory by a record score.

'They were a very poor side, to tell the truth,' Schofield, the British captain, who scored three tries, said.

'They competed for 50 minutes and then just folded,' said Reilly, who nevertheless had reason to be pleased with the way a team put together at short notice worked effectively, especially in defence.

Of the newcomers in the starting line-up, Steve McCurrie led the tackle count, while the props, Steve Molloy and, until he was rested in the second half, Neil Cowie, carried the ball purposefully.

Only Stuart Spruce made a disappointing debut, his uncertainty under kicks giving France what little encouragement they found in the first half.

Andy Currier made a solid return and it was his break and kick- ahead in the 10th minute that began the British scoring. The ball bounced kindly for Currier to regather and Schofield looped around the outside to score the first of his tries.

Currier kicked a penalty to precede his five goals. A vintage Ellery Hanley break set up the second try for John Devereux, even if the Widnes winger seemed to have been forced into touch as he got the ball down.

There was no argument about the third, Richard Eyres and Cowie running strongly for Schofield to send in Hanley when he could probably have scored himself.

France were not helped by a string of first-half injuries, a sure indication of their general lack of durability. When their captain, Gilles Dumas, required treatment, Schofield was seen to inquire sportingly after his health. He then carried his concern a little too far by giving him an interception from which Dumas ran 50 yards for the only French try, Pascal Fages scoring the goal.

A stuttering 15-minute spell after half-time betrayed Britain's lack of practice as a team, but the fading French allowed them all the latitude they needed to get to know each other. Alan Hunte and Devereux opened them up along the right wing for Schofield's second and Shaun Edwards' short pass sent in Eyres. Edwards and Hunte then combined to give Schofield his hat-trick and make him only the second British player to score more than 30 tries in Tests.

Mike Ford, winning his first Great Britain cap as a substitute, accepted Schofield's pass for the seventh try and Currier's break straight from the kick-off released Edwards.

Finally, Gary Connolly, a constant danger as the French tired visibly, slid down the left wing to set up Hanley for his second, putting the score beyond the 45 points registered in Perpignan two years ago.

In terms of strength, fitness and technique, the French are going backwards.

FRANCE: Frison (Villefranche); Garcia (St Esteve), Chamorin (St Esteve), Fages (Pia) Sirvent (St Gaudens); Dumas (St Gaudens, capt), Demacedo (Avignon); Anast (St Gaudens), Cartier (St Esteve), Buttignol (Avignon), Attia (Cannes), Cabesteny (Catalan), Amat (Lezignan). Substitutes: Castel (Albi) for Chamorin, 14; Bomati (Catalan) for Frison, 21; Torreilles (Pia) for Demacedo, 49; R Clarke (Cannes 62) for Dumas, 62.

GREAT BRITAIN: Spruce (Widnes); Devereux, Currier (both Widnes), Connolly, Hunte (both St Helens); Schofield (Leeds, capt), Edwards; Cowie (both Wigan), McCurrie (Widnes), Molloy (Leeds), Eyres (Widnes), P Clarke (Wigan), Hanley (Leeds). Substitutes: Bateman (Warrington) for Spruce, 47; McNamara (Hull) for Cowie, 53; Joynt (St Helens) for P Clarke, 61; Ford (Castleford) for Eyres, 67.

Referee: G Annesley (Sidney).

The substitute, Scott Martin from Leigh, scored three tries as Great Britain's Under-18 Academy side beat the French Juniors 25-18 in the Carcassonne curtain-raiser.

Round-up, results, page 27