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  Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Lions roar to historic victory
Martin Johnson and Danny Grewcock
Johnson and Grewcock take the battle to the Aussies
Australia 13-29 Lions

The Lions pulled off a famous victory in the First Test with a spectacular four-try performance.

Orchestrated by Rob Howley, led up front by Keith Wood and inspired by a brilliant midfield display from Brian O'Driscoll, Graham Henry's men turned the pre-match predictions on their heads.

With three-quarters of the game gone they led the world champions 29-3 - heady stuff even by the distinguished standards of the Lions Down Under.

  Match facts
Tries:
Australia: Walker, Grey
Lions: Robinson, James, O'Driscoll, Quinnell
Coversions:
Lions: Wilkinson (3)
Penalties:
Australia: Walker

Tries from Andrew Walker and Nathan Grey cut the deficit to take the Aussies to within two converted scores with 10 minutes to go - but the tourists deservedly held on.

The Wallabies have now failed to beat the Lions in seven attempts in Brisbane.

From the third minute of the game, when Jason Robinson scored in the corner, they never looked like halting that sorry run.

The game - and maybe the Test series - took a decisive turn in the 10 minutes after half-time.

With a slender 12-3 lead the Lions could have been forgiven for going on the defensive.

Instead they ripped into the Wallaby rearguard like men possessed.

Dafydd James is hauled back
Dafydd James is hauled back
The forwards maintained a rock-solid base 30 yards out. Jonny Wilkinson fed O'Driscoll and the Irishman smashed through the Aussie back-line like a supercharged tank.

George Smith was left trailing in his wake as the 25-year-old crashed over the line to send the 12,000 Lions fans in the Gabba crowd into raptures.

Better was to come. Before disbelieving eyes the Lions took utter control.

O'Driscoll's Irish team-mate Rob Henderson broke from midfield in mirror fashion and Scott Quinnell was there at the ruck to power in from two yards.

The Wallabies were in disarray, 26 points down after Wilkinson's conversion at a stage in the game when they would have expected to be level at the very, very least.

Some expected the game to start slowly with both sides opting for safety first.

For 120 seconds that was true.

Then the series exploded into life through a man who has still to make an international start for his own country.

The Lions passed the ball flat and fast through to Robinson on the left.

One shimmy and the Sale winger was free, scooting past Chris Latham on the outside and running joyously into the corner.

The Lions dominate the line-out
The Lions dominated the line-out
It signalled the beginning of 15 minutes of intense Lions pressure.

Wilkinson missed a long penalty and then Martin Johnson decided to run an eminently kickable one as his forwards set up camp under the posts.

Australia held on - just - and battled their way back.

A Walker penalty took them to within two points and soon the Wallaby backs were running the imaginative lines that make them so dangerous.

Wilkinson missed a simple penalty and the Lions momentum seemed to be dissipated.

Then O'Driscoll barrelled off the ruck on halfway and burst Owen Finegan's tackle.

He slipped the ball outside to Robinson who drew Walker, waited, and sent James in at the corner for a wonderful score.

Wilkinson finally converted and there was daylight between the sides.

In contrast to the win in South Africa four years ago, this was a victory built on magical running in addition to tireless work in the tackle.

Pre-match talk of a all-out war proved way off the mark - this was international rugby at its hard-fought yet free-flowing best.


Teams:

Australia: C Latham, A Walker, D Herbert, N Grey, J Roff, S Larkham, G Gregan, N Stiles, J Paul, G Panoho, D Giffin, J Eales (capt), O Finegan, G Smith, T Kefu.
Replacements: M Foley, B Darwin, M Cockbain, D Lyons, C Whitaker, E Flatley, M Burke.

Lions: M Perry, D James, B O'Driscoll, R Henderson, J Robinson, J Wilkinson, R Howley, T Smith, K Wood, P Vickery, M Johnson (capt), D Grewcock, M Corry, R Hill, S Quinnell.
Replacements: J Leonard, G Bulloch, C Charvis, M Williams, M Dawson, A Healey, I Balshaw.

Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa).
Touch judges: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa) and Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC rugby correspondent Ian Robertson
"The Lions produced their best performance by a long way"
Lions winger Jason Robinson
"The next game is going to be a lot tougher than this one"
Lions skipper Martin Johnson
"It's one of the best performances I've been associated with"
Lions coach Graham Henry
"We attacked very well"

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See also:

30 Jun 01 | Photo Galleries
26 Jun 01 | Sports Talk
30 Jun 01 | Lions Down Under
Links to more Lions Down Under stories are at the foot of the page.


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