Published in Thirteen
First Ashes Test 1994
Great Britain v Australia
Wembley, November 2nd 1990
“Being selected for Great Britian was the highlight of my career and to beat the Australians with only 12 men was a fantastic achievement.
“In 1993, Great Britain had played Canberra Raiders in the World Sevens at the Sydney Football Stadium and I scored a try by beating Brett Mullins for pace on the outside and scoring in the corner.
“The try I scored at Wembley was virtually the same. Before the tournament, Mullins had boasted about his pace as well!” -British match winner Jonathan Davies.
Davies Inspires 12 Man-Heroics
Great Britain had managed to win one test in the three previous Ashes series and arrived at Wembley confident that they could follow up their impressive 1993 whitewash of New Zealand by beating Australia.
However, when Shaun Edwards was sent off with over 50 minutes to go for a high, yet try saving tackle, on Canberra’s crack second rower Bradley Clyde, any chance of repeating the famous 19-12 win in the 1990 Wembley opener seemed to be leaving the field with him.
The opening half hour had been tense, with defences on top, much like in the 1990 test where the half time score was only 2-2. Jonathan Davies had missed an easy kick at goal but had then been successful with his second shot to open the scoring.
It was the tourist’s first decent handling move that resulted in the pole-axing of Clyde. An overlap appeared on the right and, as Edwards explains in his interview on pages 22-25 in this issue, the British captain raced across to the danger too quickly, got side-stepped and threw out an arm. Clyde lay prone on the floor and the Australian referee Graham Annersley sent Edwards off.
Only a few minutes later came a moment that will live long in the memory of the 57,034 spectators lucky enough to witness it at first hand. Alan Hunte and Australian full back Brett Mullins engaged in a tussle at the play the ball whilst the ball was shipped to the right hand side of Great Britain’s attack on the half way line. Denis Betts passed to Davies, who dropped a shoulder, accelerated through a gap and comprehensively beat Mullins to the corner.
This was the perfect tonic for the home side. Coming so soon after the sending off there was no chance anymore of morale being low after Davies’s wonder try. Like in Melbourne two years earlier, the Australians had been nilled at half time although not by such a wide scoreline as that famous night.
The viewers waited for the Australians to click into gear. Surely it would only be a matter of time but it simply didn’t happen. The British defence was magnificent although, in truth, they didn’t have a lot to deal with. It wasn’t until near the end that they finally cracked the home defences when Brisbane centre Steve Renouf scored outwide. The last time he had done that at Wembley was to win the 1992 World Cup and this time it appeared it was going to rescue an Ashes test.
Two years earlier, Mal Meninga had kicked the touchline goal to increase his side’s lead to four points but, this time, he didn’t take the kick. It was up to Canberra club mate and substitute Dave Furner to level the scores but his effort was wide.
Britain still led 6-4. By now Davies was off with a shoulder injury and Edwards was outside the stadium calming his nerves with a cigarette. The home side closed down the game and even extended the lead when Bobbie Goulding kicked a late penalty for an 8-4 win.
The players and coaching staff were understandably jubilant after the final hooter. Ellery Hanley even spoke to the media and having lost their third successive opening Ashes test at Wembley (the others being in 1973 and 1990), Australia must have hated the sight of the twin towers.
Unfortunately, Old Trafford and Elland Road were not such unlucky haunting grounds for them. With no Davies for the rest of the series and Edwards suspended for the second, they wrapped up the series with 38-8 and 23-4 wins.
Great Britain 8 (Davies try. Davies & Goulding goals)
Australia 4 (Renouf try)
Great Britain: Davies, Robinson, Connolly, Hunte, Offiah, Powell, Edwards, Harrison, Jackson, Joynt, Betts, Farrell, Clarke. Subs: Goulding, McDermott, Bateman, & Cassidy.
Australia: Mullins, Ettingshausen, Meninga, Renouf, Sailor, Daley, Langer, Roberts, S Walters, Harragon, Sironen, Clyde, Fittler. Subs: Stuart, Brasher, Pay & Furner.