GB downed in opener
Great Britain Students 20 v 30 Australian Universities
Dave Parkinson, Leigh East
Leigh’s international double header weekend entered a second day when Leigh East’s state of art 3g pitch hosted a hotly contested student international between the two old foes.
From the outset tempers were short and the first major incident, other than loose handling from both sides in the cold and fog was a 6th minute brawl where particularly Australian Levi Freeman was lucky to remain on the pitch.
With several transgressors from the two sides it took the match officials a little time to sort out and Matt Garside (GB) and Anthony Don (Australia) were sin binned.
It was Great Britain who settled down first and the Students took the lead when hooker Jonnie Horton, a massive influence in the first half, darted out from behind a play-the-ball and Nigel Scott supported to go under the posts before goaling himself for a 6-0 lead on 16 minutes.
With the pack featuring Adam Scott, Mike Sykes, Andy Marsh, Kris Hodson and Mark Wool, Great Britain remained in control and added a second try after 21 minutes.
It came after a flowing move down the left was sparked by a Wool offload and Garside seared through the defence before finding Nigel Scott a second time.
Scott continued his point accumulation with the conversion and then added a 26th minute penalty when Garside was tackled high.
Great Britain remained in ascendancy but couldn’t add further points despite the promptings of Jymel Coleman and Horton.
The closest they came to a try was in the 34th minute when Coleman and Nigel Scott gave Jack Sampson some space but Australia tackled back with relish and centre Michael Commerford stood his ground.
Three minutes later Horton split the defence and won a penalty for his side. This allowed Nigel Scott the chance to add his fourth goal and increase the hosts advantage to 16-0.
From the resumption Great Britain knocked on and sensing an opportunity Jonathan Thurston look-a-like scrum half Cameron Bruce opened the defence with a pass to Mitch Seaton who returned the favour for the halfback to go under the posts and convert.
It meant that despite not really being in the contest for field position in the first half, Australia were well poised for the second period.
While Great Britain sought the warmth of the dressing rooms, the Australian coaching staff kept the team on the pitch and it meant that they started the second half a completely different animal.
A couple of minutes into the new half Sampson was pinned behind his line and from the resulting possession, Australia drove within range for the excellent Tommy Butterfield to bury through a mass of bodies.
With Don looking an increasing threat, the fullback broke into Great Britain territory.
Marsh then conceded a penalty but it took a wonderful pass out of the tackle from Seaton to unlock the defence fully for Adam Hansen to finish well at the corner.
A superb touchline conversion from Bruce put the Universities in front and they didn’t look back with Gary Windass and Luke Kelly setting a good lead.
Butterfield nabbed his second try after 52 minutes and when prop Marty Cordwell powered over for the fifth Australian try in succession twelve minutes later, the game was threatening to run away from the Students.
To their credit, the Students knuckled down again with Adam Scott prominent in many of their best plays while Sampson threatened on occasion.
Largely though, Australia continued to work through their game with the field kicking of Drew Dalton pushing Great Britain back in demoralising fashion before Nigel Scott combined with Adam Scott to pull back a consolation near the end.
All eyes will turn to Cheltenham on Wednesday night with Great Britain looking to repeat their first half performance over the course of eighty minutes while the Australians will also want more consistency.
GAMEBREAKER: Halftime gave Australia time to focus and their quick start to the second half caught Great Britain out.
GAMESTAR: Tommy Butterfield controlled the game from dummy half for Australia in the second half and also notched two tries for his troubles.
GREAT BRITAIN STUDENTS
1 Jack Sampson
2 Kris Wilkes
7 John Paxton
11 Matt Garside
4 Harry Mostyn
19 Pat Smith
12 Nigel Scott
17 Adam Scott
23 Jonnie Horton
18 Mike Sykes
13 Andy Marsh
21 Kris Hodson
5 Mark Wool
Substitutes (All Used)
20 Jymel Coleman
3 Laurence Pearce
15 Liam Gilchrist
14 Dan Kerr
Tries: Nigel Scott (16, 21), Adam Scott (78)
Goals: Nigel Scott 4/4, Mark Wool 0/1
Sin binned: Matt Garside (6 – Fighting)
1 Anthony Don
2 Hillal Kara Ali
3 Mitch Seaton
4 Michael Commerford
5 Adam Hansen
6 Drew Dalton
7 Cameron Bruce
8 Marty Cordwell
9 Tommy Butterfield
10 Gary Windass
11 Levi Freeman
12 Simon Larkis
13 Luke Muttdon
Substitutes (All Used)
14 Michael Gavan
16 Brenton Stonier
17 Luke Kelly
18 Daniel Sleeman
Tries: Bruce (39), Butterfield (44, 52), Hansen (49), Cordwell (64)
Goals: Bruce 5/5
Sin binned: Anthony Don (6 – Fighting)
Referee: Warren Turley
Men of the Match:
Great Britain: Nigel Scott
Australia: Tommy Butterfield
Scoring Sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 14-0, 16-0, 16-6; 16-12, 16-18, 16-24, 16-30, 20-30