Classic Lions matches: No.1 – O’Driscoll steals the show at the Gabba

It was 12 years ago at the Gabba that it all began for one of the greatest British & Irish Lions of all time in Brian O'Driscoll. [more]

Classic Lions matches: No.1 – O’Driscoll steals the show at the Gabba

It was 12 years ago at the Gabba that it all began for one of the greatest British & Irish Lions of all time in Brian O’Driscoll.

Who can forget that jinking, rapier-like run that blew the first Test against Australia out of the water straight after half-time?

The Irish centre had already served notice of his intentions in a first-half that had seen Jason Robinson and Daffyd James both go over for the tourists, the latter thanks largely to O’Driscoll’s individual line break.

But with the score at 12-3 at half time there was a sense that Graham Henry’s side needed to do more to put the struggling Wallabies to bed.

Enter the 22-year-old O’Driscoll, already warming to his nickname on the Emerald Isle of GOD, as he collected a short ball from Jonny Wilkinson in midfield immediately after the interval.

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A jink to his left put Nathan Grey on his backside and left George Smith grasping at thin air as the centre broke clear.

But the best was still to come as Matt Burke was coming at the Irishman like a ten-tonne truck with his sights set on stopping the Lions attack dead.

One sweet side-step later and O’Driscoll is under the posts while Burke is eating the turf and the Gabba crowd, that famous Sea of Red, have a new hero.

“Oddly, we elected to warm up indoors that day,” remembered O’Driscoll.

“So when we did run out, it was all the bigger a surprise, it gave us an extra pep in our step — you feel like having the game of your life.”

Well that was certainly no understatement for O’Driscoll, who would go on to lead the Lions in 2005, play in two Tests in 2009 and finally be part of a victorious tour in 2013.

O’Driscoll’s score stretched the lead to 19-3 and it got still better for the Lions on that famous night in Brisbane.

Scott Quinnell went over for the fourth try and the tourists were in dreamland, Wilkinson adding a conversion to his second-half penalty to make it 29-3.

But with the game over as a contest the Australians served notice of their fighting spirit that would eventually see them come back to win the Test series 2-1.

Andrew Walker and Grey both went over for late tries for the Wallabies but that famous night was not going to be spoiled.

It belonged to one man and one man only: Brian O’Driscoll. 

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