Rugby League: Goulding ignites the Lions

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The Independent Online
Fiji 4

Great Britain 74

Great Britain, and Bobbie Goulding in particular, subjected Fiji to humiliation as they added a couple of new pages to the game's record books.

Goulding led the way with a new British Test best of 32 points from three tries and 10 goals. The side around him equalled Britain's highest score in a Test and set a new record winning margin. In all honesty, it was too easy for the tourists, especially after Fiji had their Sheffield Eagles prop, Malakai Yasa, sent off midway through the first half - and Goulding was even at the centre of that.

A mass brawl along one touchline had already seen Denis Betts and Fiji's Lee Nalagagali sent to the sin bin. As Fiji regrouped to take the penalty, Yasa rushed out of the line to resume hostilities with Goulding. The Great Britain scrum-half managed to side-step the attack but the New Zealand referee, Jim Stokes, had little choice but to send Yasa off. "I've never seen anything like it," the Great Britain captain, Andy Farrell, said. "He wanted to fight with everyone."

There is some past history that might go some way towards explaining Yasa's actions. He and Goulding clashed in a match in England last winter and Goulding's explanation, denying that he had said anything to inflame the situation this time, was that the Fijian must have a long memory. "Things are said on the field, but he took it personally and I thought what he did today was pathetic," Goulding said.

There was some indication that Goulding might not have been an entirely innocent party when he added: "I'm the smallest man on the field and it's my job to wind people up. If they fall into the trap, they fall into it."

The Fijian side as a whole fell into just about every trap their opponents set. Apart from his role in an international incident, Goulding was magnificent. Playing a running game which was quite different in style and content from the organising and kicking role he adopted with equal success in the Test in Papua New Guinea last week, he tormented a Fijian side that has gone backwards since it made a good impression in the World Cup in England last autumn.

Great Britain were already 10-0 up, through tries from Anthony Sullivan and Daryl Powell, when Yasa was dismissed. By half time, they were out of sight, with further tries coming from Farrell, Powell again and, inevitably, Goulding.

Fiji, who were also badly affected by the decision of their captain, Noa Nadruku, not to play after a dispute over financial terms, had no answer to some intelligent British use of the ball. Whenever the Lions could move it through a couple of sets of hands, they were able to break tackles and set up scoring positions.

With Brian McDermott and Steve Molloy powerful and impressive in the front row, Great Britain simply overpowered the Fijians in the second half, with Alan Hunte and Stuart Spruce both crossing twice, Goulding completing the first hat-trick of his senior rugby career and two substitutes, Mick Cassidy and Keith Senior, getting in on the act at the end.

Fiji's only moment of respite came when their substitute forward, Sam Marayawa, supported Stan Tulevu to score their sole consolation try. Apart from that, they were out-classed to an extent that no one in either camp had ever envisaged before the Test.

They may or may not welcome a few further words of advice from the irrepressible Goulding. "They just came to try and bully us and smash us off the park," he said. Diplomatic to the last. "They knew they couldn't win the game, so they just tried to intimidate us." Fiji will know all too well that, if that was their strategy, it was a miserable failure.

Fiji: Sovatabua, Baravilala, Thompson, Tamani, Tulevu, Ratudina, Naisoro, Kubuwai, Kaidrokia, Yasa, J Dakuitoga, Sagaitu, Malagilagi Substitutes: V Dakuitoga, Marayawa, Vatubua, Wainidroa.

Great Britain: Spruce (Bradford), Hunte (St Helens), Radlinski (Wigan), Powell (Keighley), Sullivan (St Helens), Harris (Warrington), Goulding (St Helens), Broadbent (Sheffield), Cunningham (St Helens), McDermott (Bradford), Betts (Auckland). Sculthorpe (Warrington), Farrell (Wigan) Substitutes: Smith (Castleford), Senior (Sheffield), Molloy (Featherstone), Cassidy (Wigan).

Referee: J Stokes (NZ)