Rugby League: Jonathan Davies says the home side were made to pay for schoolboy errors
Sunday 02 November 1997
Australia thoroughly deserved their victory but the British helped the Kangaroos with a string of mistakes. You can't afford to give the Aussies any assistance and when Brian McDermott messed up an early play- the-ball to allow them to mount the attack that led to Laurie Daley's first try, you felt you were watching a suicide mission.
Apart from slap-dash tackling, other errors included Broadbent's botched attempt to pass out of a tackle five yards from his line and a piece of sloppy defending when no one was guarding the 10-yard line from Steve Walters' restart and the Aussies recovered possession. These were schoolboy howlers.
Confidence was low enough after the massacre of British clubs in the Super League; after these mistakes it must have disappeared altogether, but the boys clawed their way back. When we beat the Aussies in the corresponding match at Wembley three years ago, tackling played a big part in overcoming the threat they posed.
Eventually, Britain managed to show some of that defiance, but heroism was never going to be enough. The Aussies defended brilliantly and their organisation was superb. They didn't have it all their way and I'm looking forward to the next meeting between Paul Newlove and Andrew Ettingshausen, who had a tremendous battle. But, despite not having access to all their best players, Australia always looked better and in Daley they had the game's controller. He made every use of the platform set up by the forwards.
I was particularly impressed with their back three of Adamson, Tallis and Smith. The sort of superiority they created made it much easier for their backs to subdue GB's brave attempt to get back into the game. In the second half it was the pace out wide that enabled the Aussies to finish us off.
Great Britain now face a torrid time in the next two Tests. We've usually done well in the first Test but this time we don't have that cushion. Our first job is to find a stand-off. Andy Farrell is a great all-round player but it is at loose forward that he is at his most effective.
I know we have had injury problems, too, but we can do much better if we sharpen up on the basics. When we stopped making mistakes, we looked capable of causing them trouble but in the end we gave ourselves more trouble than we gave the Australians.
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