Having hammered Western Australia 116-10 in their opening fixture in Perth, Britain and Ireland's elite headed from west to east to take on a Queensland President's XV in Townsville. And although the scenery was somewhat different from their first venue, the result was very similar.
The Red Army added a further 13 tries to the 18 they totalled in their first showing, with Jason Robinson claiming five of his own in a remarkable Lions debut.
Rob Henderson added a hat-tick in his first start for the tourists as the Lions recorded what was then the third-biggest win in their 113-year history.
Queensland Presidents XV 6 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 83
Scorers: Western Australia: Pens - Drahm 2; Lions: Tries - Robinson 5, Henderson 3, Charvis 2, Young, O'Kelly, penalty try; Cons - Jenkins 5, Perry 4
SETTING THE SCENE
The Lions arrived in Townsville in high spirits following a free-scoring start to the tour in Perth. And although the quality of opposition first time around was far from first-class, a 100-point thrashing can't have done the Lions' confidence any harm at all.
The standard of players due to line up against them in the second match on tour was considerably higher than they had faced a few days earlier but the Queensland President's XV were never expected to unduly trouble the Lions.
Winning this one was almost a given but it was the manner in which they would accomplish that goal that had everyone talking. The Lions had shown a willingness to throw the ball around and keep it alive in contact against Western Australia, something the Wallaby faithful perhaps hadn't been expecting given their often narrow-sighted view of northern hemisphere rugby.
The challenge in the second fixture was to continue where they left off in the first but with an entirely new set of players. Individuals were desperate to impress but a decent team showing was always likely to be the best way to accelerate their own claims for a Test spot later in the tour.
With only 10 games on tour and just six before the start of the Test series, Henry was always likely to experiment in the early matches. Giving players an opportunity to demonstrate their talents as quickly as possible is a vital element in any successful Lions tour and the Kiwi coach was keen to give as many of his players as possible a chance to put down a marker in the opening week.
The side that ran out at the Dairy Famers Stadium was therefore almost completely different to the XV that took the field at the WACA. Only one man retained his place in Henry's line up and that was as a result of injury issues in midfield.
With Mike Catt still not fit to play due to a back injury, fellow England centre Will Greenwood looked to build on a fine display on June 8 when he regularly cut the opposition to shreds with his clever angles of running and deft hands. Greenwood was among the try scorers in Perth but it was his ability to create space for others that really caught the eye.
Will Greenwood started both the Lions' first two fixtures
Having experimented with Irish sensation Brian O'Driscoll at full back first time out, Henry opted for a more traditional approach in match number two. Matt Perry beat his Bath and England colleague Iain Balshaw to the No15 shirt after the latter had appeared as a sub four days earlier. Perry was considered very much second choice before the tour after Balshaw had taken the Test scene by storm over the previous 18 months but the trend that started against the President's XV continued into the Test series as Perry was given the nod for all three internationals against the Wallabies.
Matt Perry started at full back in Townsville and in the Test series
Few people would have predicted it in early June but the wing pair selected for this huge victory would also be named in the Test team two-and-a-half weeks later. Neither Dafydd James nor Robinson headed Down Under as favourites to face the Wallabies but their performances in the warm-up matches, together with Dan Luger's tour ending injury, convinced Henry that the Bridgend and Sale stars were his best options out wide.
James had been on standby for the 1997 tour of South Africa but was under-rated outside of Wales, while Robinson only made his England debut four months earlier following his high-profile switch from rugby league. The former Wigan and Great Britain hero had shown glimpses of his incredible potential during his first season in the 15-man game but scoring a handful of tries on his first appearance in Lions colours can't have even been in his wildest dreams.
With Catt unavailable, Greenwood moved from inside to outside centre as Henderson was handed the No12 shirt. Known as a bit of a party boy with a penchant for a few drinks and a similar number of cigarettes, Henderson would put that image behind him to become one of the stars of the tour. The then 28-year-old continued his blossoming partnership with O'Driscoll in Australia to ensure that another injury setback for the unfortunate Greenwood didn't derail the tour.
At halfback Henry selected two stars of the previous series win over the world champion Springboks. Both Neil Jenkins and Matt Dawson had been instrumental in that stunning success four years earlier, with Jenkins' metronomic right boot and Dawson's delightful dummied try steering the Lions to victory in the first and second Tests.
But whereas the pair had exceeded expectations in South Africa, things didn't quite go as smoothly as they would have liked Down Under. Despite being picked for this game in his preferred position of fly-half as opposed to the full back role he undertook against the Boks, Jenkins failed to find his best form in Townsville or in his three other appearances on tour. The Cardiff No10 was still a steady performer on his second Lions adventure but he never came close to troubling Jonny Wilkinson for a starting Test spot.
For Dawson, the comfortable outing against the President's XV gave no indication of the drama that was to follow later that month. The Northampton scrum-half was to become embroiled in controversy after his comments to the media regarding a frustration with Henry's training methods - an episode that threatened to sully the entire tour.
Henry's selections in the front row included a far quieter tour member in Tom Smith, triple Lions tourist Dai Young and Llanelli and Wales hooker Robin McBryde.
Despite his diminutive stature, Scotland star Smith had been a huge presence in '97 as he and Irish duo Paul Wallace and Keith Wood gave the Lions the platform they needed against a Springbok side that had expected to humble the visitors at scrum time. He would again win Test honours in 2001, this time starting the series alongside Wood and Phil Vickery.
Former rugby league international Young had first toured with the Lions way back in 1989, when Australia was also the destination. He'd missed the 1993 adventure after heading up north but had returned to become a valuable squad member in 1997. Young continued that role in '01 where he again missed out on Test honours but led the Lions in the fixtures against Australia A, New South Wales Country Districts, ACT Brumbies and this one against the Queensland President's XV.
Veteran prop Dai Young skippered the Lions in Townsville
Unlike Young and Wood who had been close to nailed on certainties to make the tour, McBryde was something of a surprise call. Highly rated by Henry, the former strongman contestant wasn't a well-known figure outside of Wales. Having beaten Scotland's Gordon Bulloch and England's Dorian West and Mark Regan to a squad spot, McBryde fell short of earning a Lions cap despite Phil Greening's early departure through injury.
With tour captain Martin Johnson still being given time to recover from a grueling season in which he led Leicester to a domestic and European double, Jeremy Davidson and Scott Murray started in the second row. Davidson arrived in Australia as favourite to join Johnson in the boiler room for the three-match Test series having excelled in victory over South Africa last time out. Murray was expected to be his closest rival for a starting spot, especially as fellow lock Danny Grewcock had spent much of the latter part of the season nursing a broken jaw. In the end, neither quite managed to match their pre-tour hopes as Grewcock beat them both to a Test berth.
In the back row, Henry gave a start to Leicester's Martin Corry who had only just touched down in the country having been called up to replace the injured Simon Taylor. Corry had been on tour with England in North America and was still suffering from jet lag when he was selected to start his first match for the Lions a day after his arrival. Corry would go on to become a massively important part of the squad and would jump from tour reserve to Test starter in only 19 days.
Corry was joined in the back row by two Welshmen in Martyn Williams and Colin Charvis. Both were long-standing members of the Wales side having made their international debuts as far back as 1996. Charvis would become a Test Lion on his first and only adventure but Williams would have to wait until 2005 for his first cap and until 2009 for his first Test start.
Martyn Williams would go on to tour three times with the Lions
As far as the Lions' opponents were concerned, few of the players in this select XV could boast too much experience on the big stage.
While they were undoubtedly a better outfit and included more accomplished individuals than Western Australia, this particular side was still a level below what the Lions were used to playing against back home.
Out-of-favour Wallabies prop Fletcher Dyson was the only first-choice for his Super Rugby franchise but they did at least include 10 players who had experience of the southern hemisphere's top domestic competition.
A number of their 22 went on to make a name for themselves at home or in Europe, although none became regular Wallabies.
Blindside flanker Scott Fava had one of the most distinguished careers as he progressed to win five caps for Australia from 2005, with the Reds, Brumbies, Force and Waratahs all paying his wages at one time in a 10-year Super Rugby career.
Shane Drahm became a established English Premiership player following his move to the UK after the Lions left for home. The then 23-year-old fly-half played for Bristol, Northampton and Worcester between 2001 and 2008 before heading to Japan to join Kubota Spears.
Full back Nathan Williams was another President's player who headed overseas after the tour, with the Australian Sevens cap spending a year at Stade Francais before signing for Harlequins. Williams won international honours at U19, U21 and A levels but never gained a senior cap.
Queensland President's XV: Nathan Williams; David McCallum, Junior Pelesasa, Jason Ramsamy, Scott Barton, Shane Drahm, Ben Wakely; Rick Tyrell, Sean Hardman, Fletcher Dyson(c), Mike Mitchell, Rudi Vedelago, Scott Fava, Tom McVerry, John Roe
Replacements: Sean Barry, Andrew Scotney, Michael Tabrett, David Duley, Andrew Farley, Simon Kerr, Tim Tavalea
British & Irish Lions: Matt Perry (Bath/England); Daffyd James (Bridgend/Wales), Will Greenwood (Harlequins/England), Rob Henderson (Wasps/Ireland), Jason Robinson (Sale/England); Neil Jenkins (Cardiff/Wales), Matt Dawson (Northampton/England); Tom Smith (Brive/Scotland), Robin McBryde (Llanelli/Wales), Dai Young (Cardiff/Wales) (c), Jeremy Davidson (Castres/Ireland), Scott Murray (Saracens/Scotland), Colin Charvis (Swansea/Wales), Martyn Williams (Cardiff/Wales), Martin Corry (Leicester/England)
Replacements: Austin Healey (Leicester/England), Mark Taylor (Swansea/Wales), Dan Luger (Saracens/England), Richard Hill (Saracens/England), Malcolm O'Kelly (Leinster/Ireland), Jason Leonard (Harlequins/England), Gordon Bulloch (Glasgow/Scotland)
Referee: George Ayoub (Australia)
Seldom can an early tour match have shown the Lions in such contrasting lights in the first and second halves. At a quick glance, the 83-6 scoreline suggests a straightforward analysis, one in which everything went right for one side and wrong for the other in a game that was over before it had even begun.
But whereas the Lions' opening fixture against Western Australia had been done and dusted inside 25 minutes, their second outing remained in the balance at the break. And while an historic upset was never really likely, a 10-6 half-time lead for the Lions hardly hinted at what was to follow in the second 40 minutes.
The Lions had to battle hard in the first half
The President's XV must take great credit for their first-half efforts, particularly after they found themselves two tries down after a quarter of an hour.
Young powered over from close range for the Lions' first try on nine minutes before fellow Welshman Charvis did the same six minutes later as the tourists looked to carry on where they left off four days earlier.
But again the early scoreline only tells a fraction of the story as the Lions were lucky not to concede a try themselves just moments before Charvis touched down. Queensland full back Williams looked set to claim a famous score after poor defending from the Lions but he failed to ground the ball under heavy pressure as the tourists scrambled hard to keep their line intact.
A similarly close scare came after Drahm had reduced the deficit to 10-3 following Charvis' 15th-minute effort. This time the Lions were indebted to Greenwood's smart thinking as he prevented a near certain try with a smart interception just a few metres from his own line.
Drahm kicked a second penalty to ensure the gap was just four points at the break - a half-time scoreline no one in Britain, Ireland or Australia had predicted prior to kick off.
So when the two sides ran out for the final 40, the President's XV had everything to gain while the Lions had everything to lose. That realisation made what happened next even more remarkable as the Lions showed just why they really are the best these isles have to offer.
A quick-fire start to the second period set the Lions on their way, with Charvis touching down for his second just a minute in before Robinson raced over for the first of his five tries shortly after.
A penalty try followed shortly after and then Henderson gave his first real pointer to Test inclusion with a strong individual run that included two broken tackles. The Wasps centre's fine effort took the Lions to 34 points, with Jenkins' third conversion from six attempts extending the lead to 30.
Rob Henderson scored a hat-trick of tries on his first Lions start
Dawson's short, sharp snipe was the catalyst for Robinson's second, with Henderson then showing another side to his game with a delightful chip and chase that brought up his brace.
Jenkins added both conversions - the second of which brought up the 50-point barrier - and a game that had been in the balance for so long was now turning into a rout with 63 minutes on the clock.
Robinson crossed for his hat-trick score before replacement lock Malcolm O'Kelly took the try tally into double figures with 12 minutes remaining.
There was no let up from the Lions in the closing stages either, despite the game being long since over as a contest. Three more tries followed as the home side really began to suffer due to their inferior conditioning and the sheer volume of defending in the previous 70 minutes.
Robinson added two more tries to finish his first game in Lions colours with a handful of scores, while Henderson joining him on the scoresheet once more to claim his own hat-trick.
With Jenkins having been replaced by Austin Healy, Perry slotted the last four conversions, taking the Lions over the 80-point mark as they left Townsville with plenty to smile about.
WHAT THEY SAID
Graham Henry (Lions coach)
"We played some very good rugby in the second half. We had a lot of good field position and that was a telling factor. We tried to play the game in our own territory in the first half and we got into trouble.
"Second half, we had the field position, we gained in accuracy, we were patient and we had players in the right positions as our structure was good. So it was a pretty pleasing performance in the second half."
Gordon Bulloch (Lions replacement hooker)
"The first half was a bit frustrating. Obviously, we hadn't played together so we were a bit rusty and a few things we tried didn't quite come off. They put us under a bit of pressure and were very enthusiastic early on. But when we got control of the game I think you could see the class come through. It's great to get 80 points in the second tour game.
"It went well for me in the second half, I got a few passes away and set up a few things so I'm pleased with how it went. Things were a bit dodgy in the first half, I missed a few throws, but once you settle down it's a great bunch of guys to play with and you can't ask for more.
"I read the papers on the way over here and they said the fans would probably be out here for the first Test or the week before but there were thousands of them, all with different jerseys and different flags. It was like a home game for all the guys. It's great to be part of it and I'm thrilled to bits."
Gordon Bulloch came on early after injury to Robin McBryde
Rob Henderson (Lions centre and hat-trick hero)
"We had a fantastic win on the Friday against Western Australia but we knew this game would be a lot tougher. We'd set out a way that we fancied playing in the first half but we didn't quite stick to it. We ended up playing a Sevens-style game which wasn't the way we wanted to go about things.
"Fair play to the President's XV - they picked up on our mistakes and they kept it particularly tight in the first half. Before the second half we had a bit of a chat, tightened things up and then knew that the talent would probably bring us through."
The Lions in Townsville
Despite it being the largest city north of the Sunshine Coast, the Lions had never played in Townsville prior to 2001. North Queensland's unofficial capital had been forced to sit and watch while much smaller areas hosted the world's most famous touring team on their 10 previous trips to Australia.
And having had to wait 113 years before joining the Lions' party, Townsville's moment in the sun looks like it may have already passed them by. With the expansion of the number of Australian Super Rugby franchises and the need for tough opposition in the games that lead to up to the Test series in 2013 and beyond, it is perhaps unlikely that the city will ever feature on a Lions calendar again.