Debutant Ryan Brierley and loose forward Ben Kavanagh wrote themselves into Scottish rugby league history on Friday night by scoring for Scotland’s tries in their first ever Test meeting with Australia in the 54-12 defeat at Hull.
“It’s always nice to score tries, but I am a part of a team and I always look at the full time score rather than what I did,” said Brierley, who touched down a grubber kick from half-back partner Danny Brough when Scotland were already 30-0 down after a devastating opening by the Kangaroos. “But scoring on the international stage is something I’ve always dreamed of, and that dream came true.”
Kavanagh hit a superb line to take a short ball from Adam Walker to pull another try back before the hour mark as Scotland competed well after half-time, only for Australia to pull away again in the closing minutes.
“That is one for the scrapbook,” said Bradford forward Kavanagh, who scored only his second try on his 12th appearance for the Bravehearts. “I don’t score many tries so that is a good one to have. That was definitely the toughest game I’ve played in. From the off, they started really quick and got a few early tries which shocked us a bit, but as we got into it we started to get a few sets in and in the end got a couple of tries. Their pace and intensity took us by surprise. We played New Zealand in the quarter finals of the World Cup and we thought that game was quick, but this was another level. Once they get a quick run they just go off the back of that and it’s had to defend that set.”
After looking like conceding a record number of points, Scotland stabilised towards the end of the first half and competed well for much of the rest of the game.
“The try before half-time gave us a lift,” said Kavanagh, who spent time on loan at Wakefield Trinity this season. “When we came in Steve (coach McCormack) said that was how he wanted us to play, a good couple of offloads and a chip forward for Ryan to score the try. He was pleased with how we played the back end of the half and we built on that in the second half. We matched them for a good 15-20 minutes, and got some sets in so that’s something to build on for next week,” said Kavanagh, whose team now faces England for the first time on Saturday at Coventry. “Australia had some players sat out, and they played New Zealand the other week and beat them by 20 points, so I think they will go on to win the tournament.”
Having faced the World Cup-holders in his first international, Huddersfield back Brierley is now hoping to recover from a twisted ankle to face Wayne Bennett’s England. There were further injuries to Luke Douglas (head) and Kane Linnett (ankle) who both left the field midway through the second half and did not return, and Dale Ferguson (chest).
“One thing you can’t question is our character,” said Brierley. “After the game we knew we had left everything on the field, we didn’t have anything left to give. I’m really proud of our boys for the way they stuck in. No one can question our effort, we just need to be a bit sharper and hopefully we will learn some good lessons from this game and take it into next week against England. In the changing room after the game Steve said we got a lot from that and we have a week of training now to build on it and prepare for the next game, Hopefully we can kick on and push England.
“For your first international cap you are not going to get much tougher than that. We knew we could expect some tough times, although we probably didn’t expect it to be as tough as that. To go up against someone like Cooper Cronk is a shot I thought I would never get. About three years ago I remember asking him for his autograph as a fan!”
photo credit: SWpix.com