IT WAS as hard as they come for the GB team to lose a full-blooded encounter 26-24 to the Australian Defence Force team in the final two minutes having led for the majority of the game.
To compound the harshness of the final outcome, the visiting GB team felt they were unlucky to not receive a penalty decision after team captain Corporal James Hutchinson was hit by a two-on-one tackle just outside the Armed Forces goal area. The tackle halted GB momentum and pinned them back, as the clock ticked by.
Head coach Warrant Officer Damian Clayton said: “I felt Hutch was hit by a two on one and they stripped it, it gave them the head, and we just couldn’t get out after that, we just weren’t smart enough.
“With two minutes to go, two points up, well. The game changer for me was when the ball bounced to their player after we had stormed out of the blocks, it just didn’t fall our way and they scored in the first half.”
Clayton added: “After that score we got ourselves on a roundabout and we couldn’t get off, so we went in at half time and needed to settle it after the break, and they scored again.
“But we battled back got our rewards by levelling the score and we were ahead by two with eight minutes to go.
“The lads wanted to keep playing and fair play to them for that, but I am heartbroken for them, to have come so far, to have done so much, and to lose like that.”
As far as a better opening, GB could not have produced much more.
Seemingly at home in the cathedral of the Suncorp great early pressure from James Young at stand off and Tom Wilkinson at loose forward helped push the Australian’s back to their 10-metre line.
After just four minutes the pressure proved its value, when captain James Hutchinson found Vuli Viekune outside and big Army Sapper cut inside from the left touchline to score from 20-metres, which Si Wray converted with aplomb.
Further good kicking saw Gary Dunn find the corner form the 40m line, turning the Australian winger Lees, with captain Hutchinson keeping the momentum going with the next attack, being found by two quick passes started by Young to score from 20m, which Wray could not convert.
Further good forward drives saw GB gaining 60m each time and after 12 minutes Botwood’s good kick was collected by Siliv Biunimasi who found Vuli Viekuna outside once again for his second try, making it 16-0.
The plane sailing wasn’t going to last forever and a kick bounce eluded the GB players for Aussie Allsopp to collect and cut inside from the right wing to score, shadowed by Biunimasi.
The hosts followed the score up with another quick try from the third tackle again through Allsopp.
A mazy run from Scott then fired the visitors, he fed Young whose pass to Queeley was fumbled on the half way line, as GB stuttered looking for a spark to ignite their game again.
The hosts made a slightly wayward GB side pay again minutes later when McGregor put Darley through to score from 20m.
Jordan Andrade made his arrival onto the field for Ben Taylor known with a bustling run, this was followed by a similar run from Biunimasi, and the GB body language altered going into the break at 16-16.
Five minutes after the break, GB were behind for the first time after a mix-up collecting a catch saw the hosts gain a second set of six and with their final attack Biunimasi allowed himself to be push away too easily for Simington to score.
Sparked by falling behind, GB broke through with Hankinson being held up on the line, then a slip by Davies on the Australian try line saw the move stutter; his pass inside got the move going again and a clever kick from Dunn saw further pressure, but the move came to nothing.
Queeley then got in on the well placed kicks act, with Wray putting in a thumping tackle on the clearing Australian player, while another good kick through, this time from Young, won another set of six and the Lions roared loudest as Howley burst through to score with 16 minutes to go, which Wray converted to make it 22-22.
A tough decision then went against the tourists, when Hutchinson was hit by two men his 10m line, but no penalty was awarded and the hosts produced good pressure, but where repelled.
Further good work by Young, who had placed his kicks superbly throughout, forced a penalty which Wray took to gain the lead for this side with 10 minutes remaining.
GB then began to release the ball quickly, instead of steadying the ship and a poor set of six came to nothing.
In the dying minutes a knock on saw GB back on their try line and following a scrum on the 10-metre line Simington ran over to dash GB hopes and win the game.