Brilliant young centre, Garry Schofield scored a record four tries as Great Britain wrapped up the series against New Zealand with a 25-8 win at Central Park, Wigan.
It was Britain’s first Test series win over a team from Australia or New Zealand in 15 years, and was cause for some hope, looking forward to Australia’s tour of England in 1986.
British coach, Maurice Bamford gave his men free rein in attack, but also devised a defensive game plan which restricted New Zealand to just one try – scored by winger, Dean Bell.
Besides Schofield, other outstanding contributors for Britain included Ellery Hanley, Tony Myler and skipper, Harry Pinner from St Helens. Schofield scored all four tries for Britain with the other points coming coming from five goals by Joe Lydon and a field goal from Pinner.
Britain’s shock selection, 36-year-old prop, Jeff Grayshon, turned in a powerful effort and lasted the full 80 minutes in a match kept ticking over by Australian referee, Barry Gomersall.
The Kiwis suffered a huge blow before the game with the scratching of skipper, Mark Graham through injury. Coach, Graham Lowe handed Olsen Filipaina (contracted to Easts in Sydney) the captaincy reins.
Graham returned the following week for the Third Test at Elland Road, Leeds, a sensational match which finished 6-6, with Graham scoring the only try. Young Hull forward, Lee Crooks kicked three penalty goals for Britain, including a towering sideline effort in the final minute to force the draw.
It was a real blood and thunder Test, with two police officers taking it upon themselves to enter the field of play to try to stop a 10 man brawl which was ignored by Gomersall, who maintained his policy of following the ball.
Chief Supt Speight justified the action of his men by saying it was a serious incident “and there appeared to be no apparent end to it”.
Crooks came off the bench to replace Andy Goodway who had been flattened by Kiwi enforcer, Kurt Sorensen, who was sent to the bin for his trouble. It was widely accepted that New Zealand set out to bash Britain, rather than play expansive football.
Britain’s man of the series was red haired forward, John Fieldhouse from Widnes.
New Zealand had one more match to play in England – against Hull FC at The Boulevard – and it proved a most violent affair with English referee, Gerry Kershaw from Easingwold, sending off five players – Crooks, Shaun Patrick (Hull) and Howie Tamati, Clayton Friend and Filipaina (NZ).
The Kiwis won 33-10 and the headed to France where they won all seven matches, including both Tests.