Given the sport’s traditional homes are New South Wales and Queensland, it came as somewhat of a shock when Melbourne was announced as the host city for the inaugural Rugby League Hearing Test Match.
But the city has been slowly but surely building a following of Rugby League fans, particularly on the back of the Melbourne Storm club, now in its twentieth year. The club has seen an unprecedented amount of success and support in the otherwise Aussie Rules obsessed city. So, it was a great coup for Melbourne and the wider game when it was known that the match would be played at AAMI park.
The Melbourne Hearing Test Match would be contested between two extremely proud Rugby League playing nations, Australia and England. And when the game itself did finally come around, it was a surprisingly closely fought contest, given Australia’s recent dominance over the boys from England.
Even the first kick off was with its share of drama, as the English elected to ignore the typical option of a long range effort. Instead they sent up a short kick, and immediately reaped the rewards of their courage, reclaiming the ball and scoring the first try of the match just a few sets of six later.
They went further ahead soon after, and by the time the interval came around they managed to find themselves ahead 18-6. But Australia is not a team that will die wondering, and quickly fought back in the second stanza of the game. With only ten minutes remaining, the scores were all tied up at 24 apiece.
But it was a miraculous field goal from nearly fifty metres out that would separate the two sides. And even more miraculous, it came from England, who are not known for their skill with the dropkick. But when the final siren rang they were the ones in front by a point, and the Melbourne Hearing Test had been a game for the ages.