Monday, November 06, 2006

Putting the Great back into Britain

"Phil Gould, Rolf Harris, Willie Mason - your boys took a hell of a beating..."

Apologies for getting a little carried away, but given recent results against the bread stealers it was nice as a GB fan to be able to spend Saturday afternoon searching the TV schedules for re-runs of the victory in Sydney.

From the moment Mason popped one on the button of Stuart Fielden, you could see the visitors resolve increasing by the minute. The Aussie media likes nothing more than whaling on the Poms, and they've been in good voice in the build up to the series, describing GB as amateur, average and capable of getting beaten by Australia's third/fourth/fifth choice side* (delete as appropriate).

Well on Saturday, the lion stuck it's teeth in the Kangaroos arse and refused to let go until it had finished picking the bones clean with a late drop goal. Once the initial charges of Mason, Hindmarsh et al had been repelled, the lack of quality in depth on the Aussie bench backfired on them, with the likes of Thaiday and Tupou looking well short of the required standard. Sure, the injury to Gasnier won't have helped - but isn't this Aussie side supposed to be so far ahead that surely losing one player wouldn't make such a difference? And weren't GB equally disrupted by losing Brian Carney to injury and Stuart Fielden on a day trip to Disneyland for a chunk of the game?

The GB forwards were led from the front by Jamie Peacock, ably backed up by club colleague Gareth Ellis and another electrifying spell of the bench from James Roby. Finally, Sean Long converted some of his club form into the international arena and the centre pairing of Keith Senior and Kirk Yeaman were manful in defence when required and strong in attack.

Perhaps more significantly, when put under pressure the Australians turned almost exclusively to Darren Lockyer for a piece of magic to pull them out of a hole. It seems hard to conceive, but are the self proclaimed best team in the world very far away from being a one-man side? Certainly the captain was one of the few players in green and gold who looked capable of making a break or creating an opportunity other than from a British mistake. More needs to come from the players around him if the home side are to hit the heights they are universally expected to achieve.

A word of warning however - in the 2004 Tri Nations, Great Britain finished top of the table after the group phase. Come the final, they were on the receiving end of a blistering first half performance that blew them away and showed the gap between the two sides. It's not just the Aussies who need to improve if they are to be walking away with the trophy in three weeks time.

1 comment:

John_D said...

I always said that Sean Long was a quality international halfback ;-)