FLASHBACK: November 1978

NOVEMBER 1978

A Great Britain side, dabbed ‘Dad’s Army’, caused one of the great rugby league upsets with a 18-14 win over the touring Kangaroos at Odsal Stadium, Bradford in front of a crowd of 26,477.

Widnes’ winger, Stuart Wright scored both British tries, while Scottish fullback, George Fairbairn kicked six goals.

Britain led 11-4 at halftime, but lost halfback and skipper, Roger Millward to injury, with his place going to John Holmes.

Tries by Steve Rogers and Ray Price in the last 10 minutes, gave Australia a chance, but the British were deserved winners.

British coach, Peter Fox was elated, especially as he had been widely criticised after the First Test loss, at Central Park, Wigan.

Fox fielded an aging pack, led up front by Welshman, Jim Mills and English ball playing maestro, Brian Lockwood.

British hooker, Tony Fisher (another Welshman), won the scrums 19-12, over his Australian rival, Max Krilich.

Mills blatantly head butted Australian second rower, Rod Reddy, but referee, Mick Naughton resisted the temptation to dismiss the Cardiff product, probably because Reddy had been in the thick of the rough stuff.

The match was televised live on the BBC, and rated well.

Noted London based newspaper columnist, Ian Wooldridge traveled north to Odsal, and wrote in glowing terms about the British pack, which he said put the England rugby union pack to shame. (The union boys had been held to a 13-13 draw by Argentina the previous month).

Wooldridge said the league boys looked like members of a German Panzer Division, while the union players looked like soft, private school lads, by comparison.

I watched the match, on television, with my good mate, Paddy Hart from Widnes, in his caravan at Murrarie in Brisbane’s south eastern suburbs. I thought he was going to headbutt me, when ‘Millsy’ had his chop at Reddy.

He’s been asking for it all day,” Paddy yelled.

Four days before the Second Test, Australia had beaten ‘Greater Manchester’ club, Salford 14-2 at ‘The Willows’, with indigenous winger, Larry Corowa scoring a brilliant try for the tourists. Fullback, Allan McMahon landed only one goal from seven shots. Salford’s only points came from the boot of their Welsh, dual rugby international, David Watkins. Prop, Rod Morris was the best of the Australian forwards.

Photo: Australian forward, Rod Reddy is read the riot act by English referee, Mick Naughton.

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