The Lions’ effort could not be doubted, but they were let down by their inability to convert chances into points, and an opening six minutes which meant they would be up against it for the remainder of the game.
After just three minutes Justin Hodges was the try-scorer after chasing Darren Lockyer’s kick into the in-goal area before the Kangaroos’ expansive passing allowed Mark Gasnier to score at the corner, Jonathon Thurston converted both tries to open up a 12-0 lead.
The Lions took a foothold in the game after that, but it took until 28 minutes for them to get onto the scoreboard, Danny McGuire hacking on a loose ball to pick up and walk over the line virtually unopposed.
But the Kangaroos ensured that they were well in control at the break when Mark O’Meley managed to get the ball out of a tackle for Karmichael Hunt to touch down, Thurston again converting, to make the half-time score 18-4.
The second half began badly for the tourists when, without a recognised kicker, Paul Wellens put the kick-off out on the full.
The Australians took full advantage of the resulting possession, Lockyer outsmarting and slicing straight through the Lions defence to touch down and, even though Thurston’s attempt on goal struck the post, get his side off to the best possible start.
The try gave the Lions a glimmer of hope, but Lockyer’s drop goal on 72 minutes ensured that the game was put well and truly beyond the visitors’ reach.
That could have been the end of it, but two fantastic tries from Anthony Tupou followed by a length of the field passing movement with Brent Tate finishing off at the corner underlined the difference in quality between the two sides on the day.
– Report by Tony Williams