Rugby League: Langer issues warning for Wembley

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Eagles. .22

Australia. . . . . 52

GREAT BRITAIN'S World Cup squad saw first-hand last night why Allan Langer is the man they must stop at Wembley. Langer dominated a rugby league match Australia won at their leisure, scoring two tries and playing an important role in four others.

Having a couple of important players nursing injuries with Sunday's Yorkshire Cup final in mind, and their Australian second-rower, Bruce McGuire, understandably detained elsewhere by his wife giving birth to a son, Sheffield failed to compete in the vital early stages.

They went behind after two minutes, Langer's short ball releasing Tim Brasher. Three minutes later, Langer, Kevin Walters and Steve Renouf - in the side because Mal Meninga was resting a leg strain - sent Michael Hancock through a big gap on the wing.

The power of the Australian forwards, Paul Harragon and Paul Sironen, then established the platform for Langer to mesmerise the Eagles defence with a side-step and scoot over for the third try.

The first thing Sheffield did right defensively was when Gary Jack cut down Brasher, his team- mate and pupil at Balmain, with a vintage cover tackle. Soon afterwards David Mycoe gave Sheffield a token presence on the electronic scoreboard with a penalty.

It was a brief interlude. Langer kicked through cleverly and would have scored himself had he not been tripped; instead Brasher arrived to score his second try and add a third goal for good measure.

Jack, who had been tackling heroically, then brought some respectability to the scoreline by providing a try for Paul Broadbent.

Within eight minutes of the restart, and despite playing into a strengthening wind, Australia resumed total command. Jack prevented Renouf from scoring with a superb tackle, but Mark Sargent could not be denied.

Another substitute, Brad Godden, sliced through to put Langer on course for his second try and another long-range handling move saw Bob Lindner cross the try-line as he pleased.

Jack, giving a fair impression of a man willing to play against his country single-handed, took a pass from Mark Aston to race in for the Eagles. Jack was replaced soon after, his worth to Sheffield when they play Wakefield on Sunday too great to justify risking him further.

Renouf, Kevin Walters and Willie Carne added late tries for Australia with David Plange and Anthony Simpson replying for Sheffield.

Sheffield Eagles: Jack (Sheridan, 57); Simpson, Price, Gamson, Plange; Mycoe, Lumb; James (Broadbent, 23), Cook (Robertson, 25), Waddell, Laughton, Young, Aston (Cook, 63).

AUSTRALIA: Brasher (Balmain); Carne, Renouf, Johns, Hancock; Kevin Walters, Langer; Lazarus, Kerrod Walters (all Brisbane), Harragon (Newcastle), Sironen (Balmain), Gillespie, Lindner (both Western Suburbs). Substitutes: Cartwright (Penrith) for Sironen, 34; Sargent (Newcastle) for Harragon, 34; Fittler (Penrith) for Kevin Walters, 40; Godden (Newcastle) for Brasher, 40.

Referee: R Whitfield (Widnes).

(Photograph omitted)