Tom Raudonikis in action on the 1978 Kangaroo tour

Referee, Stan Wall handed out 11 cautions in the second match of the Kangaroos’ 1978 tour of Britain and France, with Australian halfback, Tom Raudonikis copping four himself, during his running battle with Cumbria halfback, Arnie Walker.

Tom Raudonikis in action on the 1978 Kangaroo tour

Australian coach, Frank Stanton counted his blessings with 22 minutes left on the clock, and replaced Raudonikis, before Wall finally lost patience. Kangaroos’ lock, Ray Price copped three cautions.

The Kangaroos won in a canter – 47-4 – at Craven Park, Barrow-in-Furness, in front of a crowd of 6,000. The nine tries to nil victory came on top of a 39-1 win over Lancashire club, Blackpool Borough in the opening match of the tour.

The stage was set after just 60 seconds against county side, Cumbria, with prop, Graham Olling strolling through weak defence, to score between the posts. Centre, Mick Cronin finished with 23 points from a try and 10 goals from 12 shots.

Although Australia cruised to victory, the duel between Raudonikis and Workington’s Walker, nicknamed ‘Boxer’, kept the crowd enthralled. Neither man would take a backward step, and revelled in the tough going.

Manly-Warringah livewire, Steve Martin got a special kick out of the match at Barrow, where he played in the 1975-76 Second Division season, as an ‘unknown’ from Wagga Wagga. Before the match, he received a medal from Barrow officials for his part in the club’s Second Division Championship win that season. It was Martin who was brought into the action, for Raudonikis. 

A dampener on the match was an injury to Cumbrian second rower, Paul Kavanagh, a 27-year-old ship worker, who was taken from the field on a stretcher, after being attended to by both team doctors. He had been heavily tackled and landed awkwardly on his neck. He was taken to hospital for X-rays, but Australian team doctor, Bill Monaghan said Kavanagh had movement in his arms and legs. It was thought he had a pinched nerve in the neck, and this proved to be the case, with Kavanagh making a full recovery.

Brilliant hooker, Johnny Lang, regarded as an unlucky omission from the tour, told his Brisbane club, Easts Tigers, he was considering a move to Sydney to play for Easts Roosters. The Roosters new captain-coach, Bob Fulton made the approach, before leaving for the Kangaroo tour.

Lang, who toured Britain and France with the 1973 Kangaroos, and the 1975 World Series squad, had been knocking back Sydney offers for six seasons. Norths’ Nick Geiger, who played for Australia in 1977, when Lang was injured, had joined Penrith, and it seemed Lang would also make the move. As things transpired, Lang remained in Brisbane for another two seasons, before finishing his career with the Roosters, in 1980. He returned to Brisbane in 1981, to coach the Tigers.

Craven Park in Barrow-in-Furness

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