1958 Lions Tour Part 4‏

Things hot up on the 1958 Ashes Tour as the Test series gets underway in Sydney and the Lions prepare to travel to Qld. Unlike today’s British Lions rugby union tour, there were no soft games leading up to the First Test with rugby league well and truly capable of providing tough opposition from country outfits, with Western Districts holding Britain to a 24-all draw at Orange.
We continue now with details of the tour as it might have been penned by team manager, Tim MItchell.
FIRST TEST
AUSTRALIA 25 GREAT BRITAIN 8 at the SYDNEY CRICKET GROUND
We have no excuses. Australia played well and like all good players, they profited by our mistakes.
We presented them with two softies, but that’s all in the game. In the first half we never seemed to get into the contest.
Maybe we were guilty of complacency after beating Sydney and New South Wales, and that may have contributed to the Aussies rushing to a 10-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Brisbane’s Brian Davies did a splendid job as captain-coach, and they hit hard and often in the opening exchanges.
Down 18-0 at halftime, I thought we showed some promising signs after the interval, outscoring the Aussies  eight points to seven.
But I didn’t spot any weak links in the Australian side and new five eighth, Tony Brown showed courage to bounce back from a couple of high shots from our lads.
Brown can give a lot of credit to his halfback, Keith Holman who spiced up his game with short kicks and changes of direction, which took the pressure off the new chum.
Our 19-year-old halfback, Alex Murphy made a few errors in the first half, but showed glimpses of his talent in the second. Watch for him to set the tour alight after this taste of the big time.
I thought centre, Phil Jackson and five eighth, Dave Bolton were the best of our backs, while Brian Edgar and Welsh hooker, Tommy Harris were sold in the rucks.
Bolton was laid out by a stiff arm from Aussie fullback, Gordon Clifford and our centre, Alan Davies also was on the receiving end of a really bad head tackle, but no disciplinary action was taken.
I had been led to believe that the referee intended to take such measures.
The crowd of 67,637 enjoyed the contest, as you might expect, and we hope to return to Sydney for the Third Test with the Ashes on the line.
Now it is off to Queensland, and the lads are looking forward to warmer weather.
GREAT BRITAIN 34 BRISBANE 29 at the EXHIBITION GROUNDS
This was quite an experience, playing on a field where cows and sheep are paraded every August at the state’s biggest agricultural show.
But the pitch was of an agreeable standard in our first floodlit match of the tour. We are used to playing under lights back in Britain with the BBC televising many of our games for live, night time viewing.
Our defence was ragged at times and thank heavens for our centre, Eric Ashton who gave another polished display in attack, proving too skilful for the local lads on a number of occasions.
Australia’s captain-coach, Brian Davies showed his courage and toughness by backing up 48 hours after the Test to play for Brisbane, and he set up a fine try for winger, Mel Hansen.
He also took on the goal kicking role, but landed only seven goals from 14 shots, the extraordinary number due to a raft of penalties from referee, Jack Casey from Ipswich.
I liked the look of Brisbane halfback, Barry Muir who gave accurate service from the scrum base and provided copy book cover defence.
Fullback, Mick Shannon had a great match for Brisbane and second rowers, Doug Hamilton and Peter Gallagher put plenty of force into their tackles.
Something we do not see in England are the curtain raisers to big games. Here there can be five or six games preceding a Test.
Two games preceded our Brisbane encounter, the first featuring a side from Southport on the Gold Coast, where we hope to spend some leisure time. I’m told it is a lot different to Southport in England.
Ipswich and Mackay have asked to play matches on this tour, and we have cabled the Rugby League Council for instructions. We already face a busy schedule in Queensland with matches against the State side, Central Qld, Wide Bay, Toowoomba, Far North Qld and North Qld.
How far north does this state run?
We have five more matches before the Second Test at the Exhibition Grounds and given we are one down in the series, management has imposed a 10.30 p.m. curfew on the players.
We have a lot of young players who must be looked after. Some of the players don’t like the curfew, but they are old enough to know better.
Something has to be done to ensure a perfectly fit side.
They are all good boys, but some needed to be reminded of their jobs.
Our hooker, Tommy Harris certainly won’t be breaking the curfew. He faces a week in hospital after his eye became infected after the Brisbane game.
Tommy missed a civic reception at Brisbane City Hall, but the lads ate his share of Moreton Bay Bugs.
NEXT WEEK
The Poms play Queensland and then head bush to Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville.
Things are about to hot-up.

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