Andy Farrell, Great Britain's captain and man of the match, gave the men in front of him most of the praise for one of the genuinely inspiring results in recent Anglo-Australian rugby league history. "I don't take too much credit myself," he said. "The major difference was that our forwards got a lot of stick last week and deservedly so. This week it was a total turnaround and it's so much easier for the backs when your forwards are taking you forward."
Right from the kick-off, it was a very different Great Britain team from the one which succumbed meekly at Wembley.The pack, with James Lowes and Paul Broadbent particularly prominent, took the game to the Australians from the start.
There was more aggression in every run and tackle and the fear that they might find themselves conceding too many penalties as a result never materialised. On the contrary, Australia, forced on to the back foot, found themselves offending and it was a run of three penalties, the last of them for a high tackle by Gorden Tallis, that gave Farrell the chance to put Great Britain ahead after nine minutes with the first of his successful kicks.
One lapse of discipline, when Bobbie Goulding laid into Craig Gower, cost Britain the two points that levelled the scores, but the home side were forcing errors in the tackle and Gower's interference at the play- the-ball gave Farrell the kick to regain the lead.
Unlike Wembley, Laurie Daley was being kept on a tight rein, but Australia retained the ability to punish any mistakes. Brian McDermott lost the ball and from the attack, Gower found a gap, Steve Walters supported and Australia were back in front.
With half-time approaching, Great Britain and their captain made what turned out to be the crucial breakthrough, gaining a lead they were never to lose. Farrell scored a classic stand-off's try, running at the line and going through a gap created by his dummy to touchdown for four vital points that his boot improved to six.
Wendell Sailor's punch at Farrell gave him another two points immediately after the break. In another lapse of discipline, Australia were fortunate not to have Tallis sent off when he took Alan Hunte high. Retribution arrived when, after Simon Haughton had gone close, Britain moved the ball smartly from left to right for Kris Radlinski to time his pass perfectly to send Jason Robinson over.
The celebrations were starting at Old Trafford but had to be hurriedly rearranged when Tallis made a tremendous break which was halted by Paul Atcheson and Hunte, only for Australia to maintain the pressure and Gower to score from close range.
Australia were only four points behind going into the final quarter; it was a familiar scenario and one that almost ends with them getting home safely. But then Tallis finally got his comeuppance by being sin- binned for dissent after trampling all over Broadbent. Farrell kicked the penalty, but there was still a nerve-shredding moment when Russell Richardson made a clean break but saw his pass put down by Darren Smith with the path to the posts wide open.
Britain's last two points eased the tension in the final five minutes, Hunte doing superbly to take Gower's kick to the corner and making almost 70 yards before being held down by Smith to yield Farrell's final penalty. All that was left was for an Old Trafford crowd that had given the occasion all the atmosphere that Wembley had lacked was to count down to the final hooter.
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). Subs used: Haughton (Wigan), Forshaw (Bradford). Subs not used: Long (St Helens), McNamara (Bradford).
Australia: Lockyear (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). Subs used: Kearns (Perth), Greenhill (Cronulla), Richardson (Cronulla). Subs not used: Kimmorley (Hunter).
Referee: P Houston, New Zealand.Reuse content