A field goal by Brian Fallon gave Leigh a memorable 18-17 win over the touring Kangaroos, with the captaincy of Australia’s Harry Wells criticised in the press.
Australia scored three tries to two, and led 17-8 after 60 minutes, but took the foot off the pedal.
Fallon, a former local rugby union star, also kicked three goals.
Most of the criticism aimed at Wells centred around his decision to take quick taps instead of kicking for touch and gaining valuable territory in the floodlit game at Hilton Park.
Australian five eighth, Ron Boden was repeatedly beaten when he came up too quickly in defence, and several forwards had slowed to a walk by the end of the game, no doubt in part due to Leigh’s dominance of scrum possession.
Toowoomba product, Elton Rasmussen scored two tries for Australia, one a 50 yard burst in which he outpaced the Leigh fullback.
Three days later Australia made amends when they beat St Helens 15-2 in front of a record crowd of 31,000 at Knowsley Road, but the win came at a price with lock, Johnny Raper breaking his ankle.
There were a number of fiery incidents and rival captains, Rex Mossop (Australia) and Alan Prescott (St Helens) had their work cut out keeping their men under control.
Australian centre, Reg Gasnier scored the try of the match after winger, Eddie Lumsden outsmarted St Helens former Springbok rugby union star, Tom Vollenhoven to break into the clear, after Saints halfback, Alex Murphy had kicked deep into Australian territory.
During the match Australian team manager, Ern Keefer rebuked a police inspector for shouting abuse at the tourists.
“That sort of thing does not come very well from a man in your position,” Keefer told the embarrassed ‘bobby’.
Spectators called the Australians ‘convicts’, prompting Australia’s reserves and team officials to clash with a section of the crowd, forcing police to intervene.
The loss was St Helens’ first against a touring side since before the War.