Countdown is on for British and Irish rugby union tour to begin.
The British and Irish Lions two most recent tours of Australia have produced close-fought campaigns and, ahead of their latest clash with the Wallabies, fanatix looks back at series that went all the way to the final Test.
Australia 30 British and Irish Lions 12
The Wallabies ran in four tries to none and, with Michael Lynagh pulling the strings at outside-half, proved too much for a Lions side whose only points came from the boots of Scottish duo Craig Chalmers and Gavin Hastings.
Brisbane: Australia 12 British and Irish Lions 19
‘The Battle of Ballymore’ saw the Lions toughen up — so much so they were labelled ‘thugs’ by the Australian press, with normally mild-mannered scrum-half Robert Jones stamping on the ankle of Wallaby counterpart Nick Farr-Jones at a scrum. No one was sent off, however, and the Lions prevailed in a tight match.
Sydney: Australia 18 British and Irish Lions 19
David Campese had many brilliant matches for Australia but this one, and with it the series, was decided by the Wallaby wing’s infamous error. Rob Andrew’s drop-goal effort went wide but ‘Campo’ decided to counter-attack rather than touch the ball down. Confronted by Lions wing Ieuan Evans, he threw a poor pass to Wallaby full-back Greg Martin, who had no idea the ball was coming his way. That left Wales’ Evans free to dive on the loose ball for the clinching try.
Brisbane: Australia 13 British and Irish Lions 29
The Lions outscored the Wallabies four tries to two, with England’s Jason Robinson, Wales’ Dafydd James, Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll and Welsh forward Scott Quinnell all crossing Australia’s line.
Melbourne: Australia 35 British and Irish Lions 14
The Lions opened up an 11-3 lead after a Neil Back try but when Joe Roff crossed for Australia it tied the match at 11-11 before Wallaby goalkicker Matt Burke nudged the hosts into the lead. But it was dashing wing Roff’s second try, which put Australia 21-11 up that spurred the Wallabies on to victory.
Sydney: Australia 29 British and Irish Lions 23
A see-saw match saw the Lions 20-16 up early in the second half after fly-half Jonny Wilkinson converted his own try before Australia’s Daniel Herbert scored his, and the Wallabies’, second try. Wilkinson, who had an off day with the boot, tied the scores at 23-all. In the closing stages, with the Wallabies hanging on to a 29-23 lead, Australia lock Justin Harrison – labelled a “plank” by Austin Healey in a newspaper column the Lions back later said he didn’t write himself – jumped across Martin Johnson at a Lions lineout near the hosts’ line to pull off a match and series-saving steal for the then world champions.