28th October: Aussies win Centenary World Cup
Richard de la Riviere looks back at what happened in Rugby League over the years on this day: 28th October
England were left heartbroken by Bob Fulton’s Kangaroos as they were beaten in the World Cup Final at Wembley on this day in 1995.
Having beaten Australia in the opening game of the competition, also under the Twin Towers, England will have fancied their chances of repeating the trick when it mattered most.
And they had also seen the green and golds, who were without players from Brisbane, Canberra and Canterbury among others because of the Super League War, fritter away a big lead against New Zealand in a classic semi-final, before composing themselves to win in extra-time.
As well as that, Gary Connolly was back in the England side after having recovered from a bout of pneumonia. Partnering Paul Newlove in the centres, with Jason Robinson and Martin Offiah on the wings, gave England a truly world-class threequarter line.
But unfortunately, in a tight game dominated by up-the-middle tactics, they barely received a touch of the ball in an attacking position. With Shaun Edwards injured and Garry Schofield bizarrely overlooked, England were short of options in the ball-playing department.
Rod Wishart touched down an Andrew Johns kick after six minutes for the only try of the first half as the Australians led 10-4 at half-time, although Newlove responded early in the second half with a typically opportunistic try from acting-half.
But Tim Brasher, the Australian fullback, scored with 13 minutes left to wrap up victory for Australia with a 16-8 win.
66,540 attended the game, which brought the curtain down on a wonderful tournament.
Bad day for Hampson
Steve Hampson was sent off after just two minutes for headbutting New Zealand’s scrum-half Gary Freeman in the second Great Britain v New Zealand Test on this day in 1989.
But it didn’t stop his team-mates from recording a famous win as they levelled the three-match Test series with a convincing 26-6 win.
Shaun Edwards scored one try and won the man-of-the-match award, while Andy Goodway moved from the forwards to the centres after the sending-off and crossed twice.
Martin Offiah scored Britain’s other try while Paul Loughlin kicked five goals.
Kiwi skipper Hugh McGahan, joint winner of the 1987 Golden Boot, registered the Kiwis’ only four-pointer with centre Kurt Sherlock kicking a goal.
The deciding Test was due to be played a fortnight later, and would present Great Britain with a chance to win their first major Test series of the 1980s.
As for Hampson, he played for Wigan against Castleford a day later – and was sent off again!
A Fien problem for Kiwis
Seventeen years later the two nations were in action again, as the Lions’ Tri-Nations campaign got off to a poor start on this day in 2006 in Christchurch.
A final score of 18-14 may have looked close, but the New Zealanders were coasting at 18-2 thanks to tries from man of the match Brent Webb, Sia Soliola and Motu Tony, before Danny McGuire and Gareth Ellis scored tries for Britain in the last ten minutes.
But The Kiwis were stripped of their two points when it was revealed that Australian Nathan Fien wasn’t qualified to play for the Kiwis. It was his great-grandmother and not his grandmother who had been born in New Zealand.
Meninga helps Saints to Cup win
Aussie great Mal Meninga, who is currently in England with the Papua New Guinea World Cup squad, produced one of the great Cup Final performances when his barnstorming display helped St Helens beat Wigan in the final of the Lancashire Cup on this day in 1984.
The game was played at Central Park instead of Warrington in order to satisfy the huge demand for tickets – a decision that was rewarded with a crowd of 26,074.
Having only debuted three weeks earlier in a league encounter with Castleford, a game in which he scored two tries, Meninga produced a sensational first-half display that saw his side 24-2 up at the break.
It took him seven minutes to make his mark when he burst through at least three tackles close to the Wigan line in order to score the opening try.
Soon afterwards, Wigan’s Australian winger John Ferguson prevented Paul Round from scoring, but Meninga’s dummy-half pass sent Roy Haggerty over for Saints’ second try.
Winger Sean Day, who profited so much from Meninga’s stint at the club, was next over when the Australian offloaded cleverly from a double tackle.
And the giant centre scored the fourth try of the half when he stormed down the left past David Stephenson and beat Wigan’s young fullback, Shaun Edwards, to score in the corner.
Another touchline goal from Day all but sealed the game.
But Wigan fought back in the second half with three tries of their own through Henderson Gill, Graeme West and Nicky Kiss, while Saints could only muster a Day penalty.
But the damage had been done in the first half, and Saints lifted the trophy for the tenth time in their 90-year history.
Meninga ended up playing 31 games for St Helens, scoring 28 tries. As well as the Lancashire Cup, he also helped them win the Premiership trophy, again scoring twice in the final as Saints dispatched Hull Kingston Rovers 36-16 at Elland Road in his final match.
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