Rugby League: Fox takes lead in supporting cast

Click to follow
Gold Coast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Great Britain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

AN UNTIDY game, an unseasonable deluge, kept Great Britain's midweek record intact in the last match before the deciding Test on Friday.

It was not the best performance that the supporting cast on this tour has provided, but it was good enough to account for a disappointing Gold Coast Seagulls.

The Gold Coast's legendary player-coach, Wally Lewis, decided not to play himself when the British management rejected a plea from him for extra substitutes. Without him, the Seagulls lacked direction, while Britain, even at their sloppiest, had the calming influence of Deryck Fox at the hub of their team.

Fox, who would have been left at home had it not been for Bobby Goulding's suspension, was once more a splendidly effective leader for the midweek combination.

'He was a tremendous leader again in a side, which, although it didn't always play well, showed a lot of spirit,' the coach, Malcolm Reilly, said.

Fox was instrumental in getting Britain away to the perfect start, hoisting a kick that the Gold Coast defence were unable to make safe in the first minute and then steering play via Kevin Ellis for Gary Connolly to score.

That should have been an ideal base from which to explore the frailties of the next-to-bottom team in the Winfield Cup, but Britain had a horrific half-hour during which they dropped the ball virtually every time they had it.

They were fortunate that they were punished only once, when Gold Coast captain Ray Herring went over from acting half on eight minutes. As the half continued and the heavy rain made the Seagulls' handling even worse than Britain's the tourists were able to regain the lead and stay there.

Mark Aston, who showed some nice touches in the unfamiliar position of loose forward, opened up the defence with a lovely dummy and Connolly scored his second try, with Fox converting.

Three tries in the second half made the British performance look more assured than it was, although they deserved some reward for the way in which they seized on the chances offered by Gold Coast's weak defence.

John Devereux, again looking more confident than at the start of the tour, powered through for the first of those tries and then sharp passing from Aston and Fox sent in Steve McNamara.

Devereux's run then gave Steve Hampson an opportunity which he took eagerly and two conversions and a penalty from Fox meant that Britain had no need to be particularly concerned about Herring's second for the Seagulls two minutes from time.

An estimated 8,000 British fans in a capacity 13,000 crowd had not seen the tourists at their best but there is psychological value in keeping a run of wins going and all three players expected to be involved in the Test team - Connolly, Paul Hulme and Karl Harrison - came through safely. The only casualty was Lee Crooks who has a rib cartilage injury.

Scores: Gold Coast: Tries Herring 2; Goal Bartrim. Great Britain: Tries Connolly 2, Devereux, McNamara, Hampson; Goals Fox 4.

Gold Coast: Peacock; Mohr (Thorne, 52), Cook (Goddard, 29), Vowells, Bouveng; Donovan, Davys; Stains, Herring (capt), Neller (Sattler, 34), Galea (Campion, 48), McLean, Bartrim.

GREAT BRITAIN: Hampson (Wigan); Hunte (St Helens), Devereux (Widnes), Connolly (St Helens), Hallas (Hull KR); Ellis (Warrington), Fox (Featherstone, capt); Crooks (Castleford), Jackson (Hull), Fairbank (Bradford), McNamara (Hull), Hulme (Widnes), Aston (Sheffield). Substitutes: Myers (Wigan) for Connolly, 47; Harrison (Halifax) for Crooks, 40; Broadbent (Sheffield) for Jackson, 63; M Jackson (Wakefield) for Hulme, 33.

Referee: D Manson (Brisbane)

Malcolm Reilly yesterday hit back at critics of the decision to include Winfield Cup clubs in the Australian tour itinerary. 'Our record of four wins in five outings against Australia's top clubs proves that we didn't bite off more than we can chew,' the Lions coach said.