Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004, 12:00 GMT
Dominant Aussies shatter GB dream

By Phil Gordos

The best players of 2004

Britain's hopes of ending Australia's dominance were emphatically dashed in the final of the Gillette Tri-Nations.

Despite beating the Kangaroos earlier in the competition, the Lions were left licking the wounds after being crushed 44-4 at Elland Road in Leeds.

Still, the tournament was a big hit, attracting large crowds and heightening the international profile of the game.

It was not all bad news for rugby league in Britain either, with England winning the European Nations Cup.

Wigan lost to St Helens in the final of the Challenge Cup and then fell to Leeds in the Super League play-offs.

Still, the Warriors surprised a few people, especially in the light of coach Mike Gregory's illness.

He was diagnosed with a muscle-wasting disease in the summer and took time out to undergo treatment.

His future remains uncertain but Denis Betts, who took over the coaching reins, is not yet ready to write off his former international team-mate.

Wigan may have missed out on another team title but Leeds ended their long wait for a league championship.

The Rhinos were the form team in Super League IX and were deservedly crown champions after beating 2003 winners Bradford at Old Trafford.

The Bulls also failed to hold onto the Challenge Cup, beaten early on by eventual champions St Helens.

But Brian Noble's side won the World Club Challenge, defeating NRL champions the Penrith Panthers.

St Helens were the other team to get their hands on a trophy, winning the Challenge Cup in Cardiff.

But the club's reputation was sullied by Sean Long and Martin Gleeson, who did the sport a major disservice by betting on their own team to lose.

The outcry that followed threatened to set the game back years as well as wreck the careers of both men.

But, after serving suspensions, both Long and Gleeson bounced back to earn a place in Britain's Tri-Nations squad.

Hitting the headlines for all the right reasons was Danny McGuire.

The Leeds stand-off had already been tipped to take the game by storm, but the impact he had in 2004 was nothing short of sensational.

He broke Paul Newlove's record of 28 tries in a regular Super League season, eventually finishing with 35 before adding three more in the play-offs.

Amazingly, Bradford's Lesley Vainikolo more than matched McGuire, scoring 36 tries in the regular season.

There a number of farewells in 2004, most of them fond ones.

Newlove, whose try-scoring feat McGuire surpassed, retired because of injury while Adrian Lam hung up his boots to focus on a coaching career with Wigan.

Chris Joynt also decided it was time to quit, as did his former St Helens team-mate Tommy Martyn, although not before he had guided Leigh into Super League.

Making way for Leigh were Castleford, who will be keen to bounce back into the top flight at the first attempt.

Highlights: Great Britain v Australia Tri-Nations final

Leeds coach Tony Smith on Super League success

Saints players on their Challenge Cup win



Highlights of 2004


Saints legend Joynt retires
29 Nov 04 |  St Helens
Great Britain 4-44 Australia
27 Nov 04 |  Rugby League
England ease to Nations Cup win
07 Nov 04 |  International
Castleford suffer drop
18 Sep 04 |  Super League
Saints duo given hefty bans
17 Jun 04 |  Rugby League
Injured Newlove retires
25 May 04 |  Castleford
Bradford clinch world crown
13 Feb 04 |  Bradford

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport