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Commonwealth Games 2002

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  Monday, 21 May, 2001, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Against all odds
Cliff Morgan on the charge
Morgan was a star of the 1955 tour
South Africa 22-23 Lions
First Test 1955

The extent of the challenge facing the Lions on this tour to South Africa was immense.

They were to play a side that had not been beaten in a Test series either at home or away by any country for 59 years - and they did not even have a coach.

We played with an abandon and a madness
Cliff Morgan

A record 95,000 turned up for the first Test in Johannesburg and as the great Welsh fly-half Cliff Morgan recalls they were all on their feet at the end when the Lions grabbed it by a point.

"It was such a great thrill for us to see that, " he said.

To add insult to injury the Lions played with only 14 men for much of the second half when Reg Higgins went off with a knee injury.

The Lions scored the opening try through Cecil Pedlow, Morgan, remembers the moment well.

Classic try

"The first try of the game only Lions touched the ball. It was brilliant running rugby, just like a piece of poetry it was thrilling to just watch it.

" I was on my backside when Pedlow scored, I looked up and could see him running into the corner it was the classic try."

But the Boks replied with two penalties and a try of their own before Jeff Butterfield contrived another Lions try to make it 11-8 at the break.

The loss of Reg Higgins early in the second half seemed to inspire the Lions, in a 10 minute period of frenzy they put on 15 points, with tries from fly-half Morgan, Jim Greenwood and Tony O'Reilly.

Devine intervention

"We played with an abandon and a madness," Morgan recalls.

But inevitably the depleted Lions forwards began to tire and in the dying minutes the Sprinboks ran in two more tries - the last was agonising, it put the sides within a point of each other before goal kicker Jack van der Schyff stepped up to take the conversion.

He missed and the rest, as they say, is history.

At the time, the Irish winger, Tony O'Reilly was recorded as saying that he was "in direct communication with the Vatican" at the moment the kick was taken.

The Lions went on to draw the series 2-2.

See also:

01 Jul 02 |  Lions Down Under
Victory at last in NZ
01 Jul 02 |  Lions Down Under
All Blacks exact revenge
01 Jul 02 |  Lions Down Under
The pass that won the series
01 Jul 02 |  Lions Down Under
Guscott puts the boot in
Links to more Lions Down Under stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more Lions Down Under stories

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