WIGAN coach, Graham Lowe predicted Australia would not go through their tour of England undefeated, after his club side made the Kangaroos battle every step of the way in the opening match of their campaign.
The Kangaroos emerged 26-18 victors after a classic encounter at Central Park, Wigan in front of a packed house of 30,622.
Australia led 20-2 at one stage, but the home crowd went berserk in the second half as Wigan put Australia on the back foot, with Dean Bell, Shaun Edwards and Joe Lydon scoring tries.
Wigan’s performance breathed new life into upcoming Ashes campaign, with Great Britain coach, Maurice Bamford in the crowd.
Aucklander, Lowe, who coached New Zealand from 1983 to ’86, said the British game was determined to make up for the embarrassment of 1982, when the Kangaroos made history by going through the tour undefeated.
“But I don’t think they will find many stronger (club) games than today, so they should take heart from that,” Lowe said.
Wigan’s resurgence was sparked by halfback, Mike Ford who spent most most of the 1985 season playing in Australia with Sydney Easts’ under-23s.
Wigan were missing superstar, Ellery Hanley, but Shaun Edwards played magnificently at five eighth in his place.
Australian players were battered and bruised in the dressing rooms with skipper, Wally Lewis and forwards, Les Davidson, Steve Roach and Bob Lindner requiring stitches for head wounds.
Australia played a Test against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby en-route to the UK, winning 62-12 after leading only 18-8 at halftime in oppressive heat. In fact, PNG got to 18-12 after classy centre, Bal Numapo scored his second try soon after the interval.