18th November: Lions bow out of Tri-Nations in Brisbane

Richard de la Riviere looks back at what happened in Rugby League over the years on this day: 18th November.

Great Britain exited the 2006 Tri-Nations after a disappointing performance saw them lose to Australia in Brisbane in game six of the competition.

A fortnight earlier the Lions had stunned the green and golds in Sydney, but they followed that up with defeat to New Zealand in Wellington.

The clash in Brisbane was the last of the group-stage encounters. Australia were already of assured of a place in the final, while Great Britain would join them with a win or a draw.

The Kiwis, therefore, were banking on an Australian victory in order to be able to defend the crown they had won so sensationally in Leeds a year earlier.

And, given the events in the British camp, the New Zealanders would have been very confident.

Sean Long, the scrum-half who had performed so well in the win over Australia in Sydney, had sensationally walked out on the British and flown home, later citing both homesickness and a breakdown in his relationship with coach Brian Noble.

Long never played international football again, announcing his retirement from the Test scene six months later.

Great Britain still had Hull’s Richard Horne and Leeds’s Rob Burrow in contention for the number-seven jersey, but the Long episode had hurt morale in the camp.

In the end, Horne got the nod, with Burrow not featuring at all on the tour. Although the Lions were competitive at times at Suncorp Stadium, they never really looked like winning especially when centres Justin Hodges and Mark Gasnier scored tries within six minutes of the kick-off.

Danny McGuire pulled one back on 28 minutes, which was the culmination of a bizarre incident in which Johnathan Thurston stole the ball from Lee Gilmour, only for the ball to spiral 20 metres towards the Australian line, and Gilmour kicked through for McGuire to pounce.

But the Aussies snuffed out any hopes of a British comeback when Mark O’Meley found Karmichael Hunt with a great ball and the fullback sent his side in at half-time with an 18-4 lead.

Britain’s misery was compounded when Paul Wellens put the second-half restart out on the full and Darren Lockyer scored a couple of plays later.

It took the Lions 17 minutes to respond when Gareth Hock offloaded superbly from a tackle for Keith Senior to score. Late Australian scores by Anthony Tupou and Brent Tate blew the final score out to 33-10.

Noble, though, was determined to look at the positives.

“I think they’ve got some world-class performers within our ranks,” he said.

“They can walk out of this stadium and this country with their pride intact.”

Aussies take Ashes at Headingley

Thirteen days after a heroic second-Test win at Odsal, Great Britain were unable to win back the Ashes as they lost the deciding Test to Australia on this day in 1978.

The game was played at Leeds in front of 29,627 spectators.

Warrington’s John Bevan came into the centres for Leeds star Les Dyl, while Hull prop Vince Farrar made his Great Britain debut in place of Hull Kingston Rovers’ Brian Lockwood.

The Kangaroos maintained the same backline from Odsal, but brought George Peponis, Rod Morris and Les Boyd into their forwards.

And Canterbury hooker Peponis scored the game’s first try from dummy-half after points machine Mick Cronin had kicked a couple of penalties.

Britain enjoyed some good possession for most of the rest of the half, but the destination of the Ashes was decided between the 38th and the 40th minutes.

Tommy Raudonikis, Australia’s effervescent halfback, sent Boyd over from 25 yards, before Parramatta forward Geoff Gerard scored from 40 yards.

Game over!

Bob Fulton took the score out to 20-0 with an early second-half drop-goal, but Britain hit back with a couple of tries.

First, their captain, Roger Millward, scored off a Phil Lowe pass before John Joyner and John Holmes combined to send Bevan into the corner. But Raudonikis had the final word with a 62nd-minute scrumbase try.

Australia won 23-6, although the scoreline didn’t really do justice to their domination.

Happy birthday, Rocky

Wakefield and Great Britain legend Derek Turner is 81 today, having been born on this day in 1932.

Regarded as one of the game’s great loose forwards, Turner, who was nicknamed ‘Rocky’ after the boxing legend Rocky Marciano, played with distinction for Hull Kingston Rovers, Oldham and Trinity after starting out in rugby union with Ossett.

He won 24 caps for Great Britain, touring with the Lions on the 1957 World Cup tour and also in 1962, helping his side win the Ashes.

But he is best known for his Wembley exploits with Wakefield, whom he joined for a world-record fee of £8,000, captaining the club to Challenge Cup glory in 1960, 1962 and 1963 over Hull, Huddersfield and Wigan respectively.

He went on to coach Castleford, Wakefield and Leeds, winning the Challenge Cup with Castleford in 1972 and again with Leeds in 1972.