Top 10 International Upsets
They may have enjoyed a 32-point thumping of a Cumbrian Select XIII as the final precursor to their historic first clash with the Kangaroos on Saturday, but Scotland would need to cause one of up the greatest upsets in the game's history to start their Four Nations campaign with a win.
But fear not Bravehearts – and forget that the Aussies are $1.01 with the bookmakers – because for more than a century international rugby league contests have thrown up results to boggle the mind.
Here are 10 results that no one saw coming.
10. 2016 Jamaica draw 16-all with Wales
A Jamaican team at the Rugby League World Cup may seem more fanciful than the concept of a group of Jamaican bobsledders at the Winter Olympics but given their recent displays in Europe the Reggae Warriors may yet have a date with Hollywood. Formed little more than a decade ago, Jamaica fell short in their bid to qualify for the 2017 World Cup going down to Canada and the United States but disposed of Ireland 68-16 a fortnight ago and last weekend drew 16-all with Wales, missing a conversion in the dying minutes that would have earned them the win in Wakefield.
9. Kangaroos hit French resistance
Prior to their two-Test tour of France in 1978 the all-conquering Kangaroos had dropped just three Tests in their past 27 but met with heavy French resistance in both Carcassonne and Toulouse. Having just completed an Ashes series win over Great Britain with a 23-6 win in the Third Test in Leeds, the Kangaroos made just one change against France with Steve Martin replacing Steve Rogers in the centres. Australia outscored the French two tries to one courtesy of Michael Cronin and Graham Eadie but the goal-kicking of winger Jose Moya earned the home side a 13-10 win. Rogers returned for the second Test and scored a try but France's 11-10 win courtesy of two field goals saw them sweep the series. They are the last team to record successive wins over Australia in a single series and the Kangaroos would not lose another series or tournament until the 2005 Tri-Nations.
8. Welsh sharp-shooter spears England
It had been close to 20 years since the Welsh had tasted victory against their nearest and fiercest rivals but in 1995 they had at their disposal the goal-kicking genius of Jonathan Davies. A Welsh Test rugby union representative on 37 occasions, Davies moved across to rugby league to play 343 games for Widnes along with stints with Canterbury and North Queensland. In the 1995 European Championship in Cardiff, Davies captained a spirited Welsh side against the might of Garry Schofield, Phil Clarke, Jason Robinson, Karl Harrison et al and with his radar-like right boot guided his team to an 18-16 win, kicking four goals and two field goals. England have won all nine meetings since including an 80-12 hiding in 2012.
7. Kangaroos caught on the hop in Ashes opener
Arriving in England carrying the weight of history of two successive undefeated Kangaroo tours in 1982 and 1986, the 1990 tourists easily accounted for St Helens, Wigan, Wakefield Trinity, Cumbria and Leeds in their warm-up matches but ran into a Great Britain team that boasted Ellery Hanley at his absolute brilliant best. Having gone a decade and 15 Tests without losing to Great Britain, Australia dropped the dead rubber of the 1988 Ashes in Sydney and then went one down two years later at the famed Wembley Stadium. Ricky Stuart made his Test debut at five-eighth but it was Hanley playing at lock who orchestrated the 19-12 win. It set up one of the great series in international rugby league which the Kangaroos were able to salvage courtesy of two of Australia's greatest ever tries to Cliff Lyons and Mal Meninga in the extraordinary second Test.
6. Kiwis get one over big brother
In the early 1950s New Zealand were victorious over the Kangaroos in four successive Tests but when the two teams met in Brisbane on July 9, 1983 Australia were riding the wave of momentum that comes with a 14-Test winning streak stretching back more than a decade. Australia were 16-4 winners in Auckland a week earlier but Kiwi coach Graham Lowe regathered his bunch of no-names and launched an audacious raid at Lang Park that not only resulted in a 19-12 win but ended Australia's five-year unbeaten streak and ultimately led to Arthur Beetson's sacking as coach of the Kangaroos.
5. Sublime and ridiculous behind Kiwis Cup triumph
It was going to take either something sublime or ridiculous for the rampant Kangaroos to be prevented from claiming the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and on a November night in Brisbane more than 50,000 fans saw plenty of both. Winners of 19 of their previous 22 Tests, the Kangaroos demolished their opposition in the early rounds of the World Cup, disposing of the Kiwis 30-6, smashing the Poms 52-4 and brushing past PNG 46-6 before moving past Fiji in the semi-finals 52-0. But on a night where New Zealand needed everything to go right, everything did. Benji Marshall was ruled to have had the ball raked out – and not knocked it on – for Jerome Ropati's try, Billy Slater inexplicably threw a ball back over his head rather than go into touch which Marshall pounced on to score himself, Lance Hohaia was awarded a penalty try when taken out chasing a kick into the in-goal and Adam Blair scored a try that was so haphazard it defied description. New Zealand won 34-20 and gave international rugby league an important shot in the arm in the process.
4. Kumuls dish out some local hospitality
Passion had never been questioned since the day Papua New Guinea played their first Test in 1975 but any willingness of the locals was rarely a match for the professionalism displayed by other major rugby league playing nations. But when Great Britain turned out in front of close to 12,000 Kumul-crazy fanatics the tables were greatly more even. Superstars such as Garry Schofield, Lee Dixon, Denis Betts and Bobbie Goulding found themselves down 14-8 at half-time and despite scoring three tries to two, were defeated 20-18. Centre Bal Numapo was the hero for PNG, kicking five goals and one of his side's two field goals. A week later Great Britain won a World Cup qualifier against the Kumuls 40-8 and then defeated New Zealand 2-0 in a Test series in New Zealand.
3. Visiting Maori stun Kangaroos in Sydney
The game may have been much in its infancy in 1909 but already there was a strong rivalry brewing between the trans-Tasman rivals. Australia had accounted for the New Zealand national team 2-1 in their three-match series before lining up to play against the NZ Maori team a month later. Where less than 20,000 people had watched the earlier three-Test series 30,000 fans flooded into the Sydney Showground to watch Dally Messenger lead the Aussies out against the Maoris. Playing their third game in a week, the Maori stunned the Kangaroos 16-14 with try-scoring sensation Arapeta Wharepapa scoring twice in the 16-14 win, two of his 15 tries in the 10-match tour.
2. South Africa's win for the ages
South Africa's association with international rugby league doesn't stretch much further than their involvements in the Coca-Cola Sevens in the early 1990s but there has been one Test match they won't soon forget. Humbled by Australia in their first two Test appearances in 1963, the South African tour ventured east to New Zealand with the team bolstered by the inclusion of a number of Australian players as a result of injuries and as such is not considered a Test match. But try telling that to the willing South Africans who took to Carlaw Park including Fred Griffiths, a prolific point-scorer with Wigan and North Sydney who kicked his nation's two goals for an unlikely 4-3 win. It is to date South Africa's sole success in an international fixture.
1. 'Swinton Massacre' a game-changer
On its own it's probably not considered an 'upset' as such but the nature of the victory by the Kangaroos in England in the second Test of the 1963 series and the ramifications that were to follow makes it one of international rugby league's most significant results. No Australian team in 50 years had returned from the mother country with the Ashes in their possession but a team boasting Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier, Graeme Langlands, Johnny Raper and Noel Kelly set the tone with a 28-2 win in the first Test, with Gasnier scoring a hat-trick. But that was a mere taste of what was to come in the second Test and which would become forever known as the 'Swinton Massacre'. Gasnier got a double – as did Langlands and Peter Dimond – while Irvine scored three, Australia recording their highest score to date against Great Britain in the 50-12 win. The 38-point winning margin was not bettered until 2002 when Australia crushed Great Britain 64-10.