Classic Lions matches: No.8 – Underwood’s first and last Lions try

Like a Porsche going past a Lada, Rory Underwood showed John Kirwan a clean pair of heels to set up a thrilling finale against the All Blacks in 1993. [more]

Classic Lions matches: No.8 – Underwood’s first and last Lions try

Like a Porsche going past a Lada, Rory Underwood showed John Kirwan a clean pair of heels to set up a thrilling finale against the All Blacks in 1993.

In what was the last British & Irish Lions tour of the amateur era, Sir Ian McGeechan became the first man entrusted to coach the Lions for a second time and selected a squad dominated by the English.

No less than 17 Englishmen were chosen to front up to New Zealand – the majority of them having helped their country reach the final of the Rugby World Cup two years earlier in 1991.

The first Test in Christchurch had gone down to the wire with New Zealand snatching a 20-18 victory with a last-minute penalty from the boot of Grant Fox.

But during the second Test in Wellington, a forward pack featuring all but one Englishman came to the fore – as did one particular Red Rose back.

Google Ad Manager – In Article

Martin Bayfield was a giant in the line-out that day and recalls how, after showing too much respect to their fearsome opposition in the first, Test the Lions came out fighting up front.

“We lost the first Test courtesy of a disputed try when Ieuan Evans and Frank Bunce went up together for a high ball lofted into our in-goal area,” said Bayfield.

“We realised that we had been too much in awe of the All Blacks and began to claw our way back.

“Ultimately, we didn't trust ourselves to win and we were undone by a late Grant Fox penalty, again from a controversial decision.

“The second Test wasn't the prettiest either but we turned the screw on them up front and Rory Underwood scored a stunning try after beating his opposite number John Kirwan.”

Following a knock-on from All Blacks’ captain Sean Fitzpatrick the ball was pounced upon by scrum-half Dewi Morris who found Jeremy Guscott with Underwood outside him with just Kirwan opposing them.

Guscott sprung the ball to his England teammate just past halfway and then Underwood raced past the despairing Kirwan to touch down in the corner for his one and only Lions try, leaving Bayfield to recite these words from the wing’s brother Tony.    

He added: “Rory's brother Tony said afterwards that is was ‘like watching a Porsche going past a Lada’ which was a bit unfair on a player like Kirwan, admittedly.”

With the series tied at 1-1 New Zealand rallied and recorded a 30-13 victory in Auckland to leave the Lions rueing what might have been.

McGeechan’s side held the unwanted tag of being the last side to lose a series having won the second Test match going into this summer’s tour, only for the Australians to match them against Warren Gatland’s side.

Previous story Lions tradition to continue with 2013 documentary
Next story Tuilagi suffers injury blow
Download