Brutal Kangaroos claim Tri-Nations supremacy
Sunday November 28, 2004
Australia have produced a brutal and dynamic display of rugby league to defeat Great Britain 44-4 in front of a sold-out Elland Road Stadium in Leeds this morning.
The Tri-Nations trophy was secured by the visitors after a first-half blitz of six tries put the game beyond doubt and forced the home side to turn the second half into a "seek and salvage" mission.
The 40,000 strong crowd may have built an amazing atmosphere in the early stages of the match, but it's fair to say there weren't nearly as many in the stands after the full-time siren had sounded.
The Kangaroos controlled the first half of the match with superior field position and ball possession, which allowed the halves combination of Darren Lockyer and Brett Kimmorley to weak havoc for the British defence.
Australia opened the scoring in the third minute of the game after successive penalties gave Darren Lockyer an easy shot at goal.
The two point lead gave the Kangaroos the psychological advantage, as they then settled into the rhythm of the game and kept the Lions on the back foot.
A superb grubber kick from fullback Anthony Minichiello gave winger Matt Sing the first try of the match after just nine minutes of play.
Minichiello was rewarded for his try assist just three minutes later, after a dynamic attacking passage from the visitors finished was completed under the posts by the Roosters and New South Wales fullback.
Darren Lockyer proved he was back to his best in the 15th minute of the match with a pin-point accurate cross-field kick landing in the arms of Willie Tonga to give Australia and almost unbelievable 20-0 lead.
Minichiello, Lockyer and Tonga all collected one try apiece in the final twenty minutes of the first half to give the visitors a 38-0 lead and an almost guaranteed victory at the half-time break.
It appeared to be more of the same in the second half as giant Bulldogs back rower Willie Mason crossed with ease to break the 40-point barrier, but that was to be the last try for the Australians.
Great Britain hit back for the first time in the 45th minute after an exciting backline move ended in a 4-pointer to winger Stuart Reardon.
A combination of Great Britain hitting their straps and Australia relaxing a little made the final half-hour of the match a lot closer than the first half.
Nevertheless, Australia did all that was required of them to keep the British out and finish the game with after conceding just four points.
The match was by far the most lopsided international of the past 6 weeks, making it a very odd and somewhat disappointing way to end a close and hardfought series.
Disappointment will be the main flavour of the English Rugby League community after their performance today, but despite the scoreline it is safe to say that international league has come a long way over the past two years and will continue to grow after a very successful Tri-Nations 2004 tournament.
Australia 44 (Minichiello 2, Tonga 2, Mason, Lockyer, Sing tries; Lockyer 6, Fitzgibbon 2 goals) defeated Great Britain 4 (Reardon try) at Elland Road Stadium, Leeds.