The game was in the balance as the Rhinos levelled the game up in the second half but two converted tries in three minutes, the first scored by skipper, Thornhill Trojans Anthony Broadhead, also the sponsor’s man of the match turned the game the tourist’s way.The game was a true Test as both sides battled to gain supremacy and there were many bone crunching hits that made the stadium shudder at times and some blatant thuggery from the hosts which went unchecked. The let down in the game was that it was a stop start affair with penalties being given away and the referee at times lost control and continuously gave a mean ten metres when the Lions attacked the Rhinos. He also puzzled and bemused the tourists with his interpretation of the rules of rugby league allowing lying on and slowing the play the balls.
On a positive front the referee will learn from this and should he take charge for next Saturdays Second Test he will take on board today’s game.
The Lions took the lead after four minutes following the Rhinos losing possession early in their tackle count. On the last tackle from the play the ball birthday boy, stand off John McMullen of Wigan St Judes passed the ball out to half back partner Kevin Brown (Eastmoor Dragons) who fed out to centre Matty Danville whose quick pass found Danny Smith on the wing to score the first of his brace. McMullens conversion went to the right of the posts.
The Lions then gave away a series of penalties in kickable position but opted to run at the line with their heavier and taller pack but the Lions defence held firm. Both sides were guilty of losing the ball early in the tackle count and the game was stop start when penalties were being awarded for both sides.The Lions doubled their lead on 17 minutes following a penalty against the Rhinos on the last. McMullen got the ball out to fullback Craig Holmes of Thornhill Trojans and Richard Owen (Wigan St Pats) took the ball and instantly flicked it out to centre Tim Sutcliffe. His sleight of hand pass found winger Chris Lee of West Hull to score in the corner. Kevin Browns conversion was short.Five minutes later the Lions should have led 12-0 but the referee disallowed Smith of Shaw Cross Sharks a second deeming his pass from Danville (Skirlaugh) forward.
On 28 minutes the Rhinos were back in the game after two cheap penalties given away the second for dissent. The Rhinos made three drives and from the next play the ball outstanding scrum half Meyer Van Deventer drove through and stand off Jaques De Toit added the extras.Two minutes later Wath Brow Hornets prop Kevin Thompson was sin binned for an alleged high tackle and Rhinos through their forwards drove at the Lions. They held firm after several minutes of pressure and then scored their third try on 36 minutes. On the last tackle the ball went through several Lions hands before West Bowlings Sutcliffe scored his fifth try of the tour. As he scored he was viciously struck under the eye and came off with blood pouring from the cut and took no further part in the proceedings.
The Rhinos Jonathon Soares was sin binned and Brown missed the conversion.The second half again started off at a slow stop start pace and the Rhinos levelled up the game after penalising the Lions on 45 minutes as second row forward Hercu Nels crashed over from close range. The Rhinos had several penalties in great position but opted to drive forward but losing the ball early in the tackle count as the hits became harder.
The Lions sewed up the game with two quick fire tries the first coming from Broadhead who crashed onto a pass from hooker Paul Brown of Castleford Panthers and Holmes kicked the extras the Lions first conversion. They doubled the lead on their next set following a superb 50 metre break by Kevin Brown. The next tackle saw superb quick handling skills before McMullen passed inside for Smiths second.McMullen had the chance to increase the lead to fourteen points but spurned the kick and was the penalised during that set and a consequence was sin binned twelve minutes from time.
The Rhinos charged forward on a number of occasions but props Scott Woodcock of Thornhill Trojans and Thompson put some huge hits in on the Rhinos. Following yet another penalty this time to the Lions Woodcock made a magnificent forty metre break down the short side drew fullback Roalle Strydom before passing outside to Blackbrook centre Andy Dobson to go storming over by the posts from twenty metres. Kevin Brown added the extras for a 30-12 lead.
The Lions then showed how mean their defence was when Smith somehow stole the ball one on one from Hercu Nel as he went at the corner to crown a bloody bludgeoning win over the home side.
After the game victorious BARLA Great Britain Lions Head Coach Chris Middlehurst gave his thoughts on the brutal game,“Why didn’t the RFL send over a decent referee that’s my first comment, second comment brilliant, disciplined and scored some good tries by the lads on the field but there was some thuggery went on out there and it wasn’t from our side. There were some bad shots out there from the lads, head highs, off the ball elbows and a kick to the face on Tim Sutcliffe so it’s a great performance under those conditions. “We came to play rugby and we had scored some good tries in the warm up game. We knew it was going to be tough hard battle but that was not rugby out there today.”Anthony Broadhead who won the BARLA Sponsors watch said,“It was very tough out there but the lads gave one hundred per cent and more. They were throwing a few cheap shots we have lads with a few cuts, a lot of lads with a lot of injuries but we came through it well, up the BARLA Great Britain Lions boys.“We are off to Sun City tomorrow and will probably have a light session tomorrow and whilst there prepare for next Wednesdays game against the South Africa U/23’s. I have loved it out there today being the captain of the side I take my hat off to every single one of the players involved in the game as well as those who didn’t play, the coaching staff, everyone behind the scenes. We have done the job, we have come here we are one up, now bring on the Second Test.” By Steve Manning
SOUTH AFRICA RHINOS: 1. Roalle Strydom, 2. Jonathon Soares, 3. Ryno Nel, 4. Gerard Jacobs, 5. Carlo Snygans, 6. Jaques Du Toit, 7. Meyer Van Deventer, 8. Rudie Coetzee, 9. Riaan Botha, 10. Francois Cloete (Capt), 11. Dolf Nel, 12. Hercu Nel, 13. Anthony Wiceme. Substitutes: 14. Gerard Du Preez, 15. Bertie Powell, 16. Franco Vermulen, 17. Marius Kruger
Tries: Van Deventer (28), H Nel (45)
Goals: Du Toit 2/2
BARLA GREAT BRITAIN LIONS: 1. Craig Holmes (Thornhill Trojans), 2. Danny Smith (Shaw Cross Sharks), 3. Tim Sutcliffe (West Bowling), 4. Matty Danville (Skirlaugh), 5. Chris Lee (West Hull), 6. John McMullan (Wigan St Judes), 7. Kevin Brown (Eastmoor Dragons), 8. Scott Woodcock (Thornhill Trojans), 9. Paul Brown (Castleford Panthers), 10,. Kevin Thompson (Wath Brow Hornets), 11. Jimmy Rogers (Saddleworth Rangers), 12. Richard Owen (Wigan St Pats), 13. Anthony Broadhead (Capt (Thornhill Trojans). Substitutes: 14 Ryan Robb (Kells), 15, Andy Dobson (Blackbrook), 16. Trevor Penrose (Skirlaugh), 17. Gary Lumb (Cutsyke).
Tries: Smith (4, 55), Lee (17), Sutcliffe (36), Broadhead (52), Dobson (74)
Goals: Holmes 2/2, K Brown 1/3
South Africa Rhinos Man of the Match: Van Deventer
BARLA Great Britain Lions Man of the Match: Broadhead
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-8, 6-8, 6-12, 12-12, 12-18, 12-24, 12-30