Great Britain Lions

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2023 - 1:46:16 PM

Great Britain Beaten by Australia
Jul 22, 2023 - 6:58:49 PM

The BAFA GB Lions national team took on the Australia Outback national team in the first game of the 2009 Tri-Nations Tournament on Tuesday. The game took place at the Hollywell Park field at Loughborough University and a crowd of approximately 100 people braved the inclement weather to watch the first meeting of the national teams since the 1998 Australian Kookaburras tour to the UK.


The game started promisingly for the Lions with a deep Pete Rogers (Yorkshire Rams) kick off held to a short return by the visiting Outback.   The Lions’ defense quickly got into gear led by team captain Paul Summers (London Blitz) and Gary Clark (Coventry Jets) who made some early bone-jarring tackles.


After several punts the Lions were back on offense and drove the ball well behind the blocking of the offensive line. Jermaine Allen (Paris Flash) and starting Quarterback Eber Kington (Sussex Thunder) both got in on the act with runs for positive yardage. From just outside the 11 yard line the Lions attempted to pound the ball into the endzone, but Australia stood firm. With fourth down and a yard to go at the 2 yard line, the Lions decided to go for it but were stopped short.


This big play seemed to give the Outback a huge confidence boost and the changing momentum shifted even further when an Australian punt was muffed by the returner and recovered by the visiting team.


As the game moved into the Second Quarter the Outback offense seemed to be working more effectively. Several short gains were followed by a Matthew Freeman touchdown catch from Quarterback Kiernan Dorney which covered 22 yards. The extra point was converted by Liam Erby to give the Outback a 7-0 lead.


As the rain came down the Lions seemed to run the ball effectively. Good gains took them into scoring position and when the next fourth down situation arose, Lions Head Coach Riq Ayub opted for a Field Goal attempt. Pete Rogers duly stepped up and converted it to narrow the lead to 7-3.


The Outback then had a long clock-consuming drive of their own, eventually stalling in the Lions’ half. A great coffin corner punt pinned the Lions offense inside their own 5 yard line. On the third down, a mishandled snap was fumbled and the Outback recovered the ball at the 10 yard line.


The Lions defense held their ground, driving the Outback offense backwards. This resulted in a field goal attempt which fell short of the posts. Back on offense, the Lions fared no better but a booming punt by Rogers saw the Outback pinned deep in their own territory as the first half came to an end.


Clive Palumbo (Kent Exiles) returned the kick off to midfield as the second half began, but the Lions were forced to punt. On the ensuing Outback punt, Palumbo set off on a return that saw him in the endzone with the ball. Unfortunately his return had been aided by an illegal block in the back and so the score was nullified much to the disappointment of the crowd.


Despite the setback the Lions drove down inside the Outback 20 yard line, Allen again making good ground gains. Not for the first time in the game the Lions opted to attempt a field goal but this was aborted as the ball slid along the ground and was not handled by the Holder.


In an almost mirror image of the first half this missed opportunity further moved the game’s momentum to the visiting Australians. Another punt, which Owen Thomas (Farnham Knights) was inches away from blocking, was muffed by the returner and the Outback recovered again. As the fourth quarter began it was Outback Quarterback David Ward who found Ryan Dwyer in the endzone for a 25 yard touchdown. The extra point was missed, but the lead was extended to 13-3.


The Lions then set off on a determined drive down the field and looked to be moving the chains well until Outback Cornerback Steven Baker jumped an out pass and returned it back 60 yards for the game clinching touchdown. With the extra point converted by Liam Erby, Australia took an unassailable 20-3 lead.


As the game drew to a close, Fred Boyle (London Blitz) was inserted at Quarterback for the Lions. However, the offense was unable to make any significant headway and was forced to punt the ball away inside the two minute warning. The Outback were able to run the remaining time off the clock for a historic victory ... their first on international soil since 1999.


The Lions now have several days to make adjustments before facing the reigning European Champions Sweden on Saturday 25th July.


Next up in the tournament is the Australia-Sweden game on Thursday evening. Kick off is at 5:30 pm at the Hollywell Park pitch at Loughborough University.

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