Great Britain suffered their first defeat of their 1946 Australasian tour when their colours were lowered 15-12 by a formidable South Coast Division side in Wollongong.
To be fair to the Lions, they finished the match with only 11 men after prop, Trevor Foster (Bradford Northern) and fullback, Joe Jones (Barrow) were injured, and they were backing up after a hard fought win over New South Wales the previous day.
It was 7-7 early in the second half in Wollongong, with the deadlock broken by Southern Division’s Australian representative winger, Charlie Hazelton.
Southern led 15-7 after 110kg forward, Jim Russell scored a block busting try later in the match.
With full time approaching Tommy McCue (Widnes) set up a try for giant forward, Frank Whitcombe (Bradford). Britain had one last chance to salvage the match, but the local defence held.
The crowd of 13,352 was one of the biggest to attend a tour match, outside the Sydney and Brisbane metropolitan areas.
Cyril Connell, a Queensland member of the Australian selection committee, told ‘The Courier-Mail’ he believed the home side would be too strong for Britain in the First Test, rating the tourists below standards of previous sides.
As things transpired, the First test finished an 8-8 draw, with a crowd of 64,527 packing the SCG for a gripping contest, the general consenus being that Britain deserved to win, especially as they played with 12 men for 50 minutes after Bradford centre, Jack Kitching was sent off. Britain went on to win the next two Tests.
After the Wollongong loss, Britain beat NSW 21-7 in a return encounter; thrashed Western Division 33-2 at Orange before crashing 18-13 to Newcastle in front of a crowd of 17,134.
Wingers, Arthur Bassett (Halifax) and Eric Batten (Bradford Northern) finished equal leading try scorers on tour with 18 each.