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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
World Cup golden moments
New Zealand 45-29 England
World Cup semi-final, 18 June 1995
Newlands, Cape Town

The day Lomu struck
by Tony Underwood

That moment stands out as a piece of classic rugby history, so I guess being part of history is always something special. But that is little consolation even looking back on it now.

It was hardly the way I or the other guys had expected to plant ourselves in the annals of the World Cup.

Tony Underwood (left) can only look on as Jonah Lomu runs in to score
Underwood proved no match for Lomu on the day

I remember, we were on a big high after beating Australia in our quarter-final. That win over the Wallabies was hardly a classic but it was a real nail-biter which we only just clinched when Rob Andrew slotted over his drop goal in the dying minutes.

Because of our achievement - we'd just beaten the world champions - our celebrations after the Australia game probably extended a little bit longer than they should have done.

It's amazing looking back on it now - something the England set-up of today wouldn't do - but in the week leading up to the New Zealand game we didn't even come up with a special game plan for Jonah. That was a little naive.

Coach Jack Rowell and captain Will Carling may recall it differently, but I remember them asking me if I could handle Jonah on my own.

I was feeling fairly confident. I'd played well all season and scored a try in the win over Australia, so I was hardly going to say: "I can't handle Jonah."

In retrospect, Ian Hunter might have handled it better physically on a one-on-one basis.

Jonah Lomu hands off Rob Andrew on his way to another score
Lomu cruised past all those who got in his way
New Zealand 45
Tries: Lomu (4), Bachop, Kronfeld
Cons: Mehrtens (3)
Pen: Mehrtens
England 29
Tries: Carling (2), R Underwood (2)
Cons: Andrew (2)
Pen: Andrew

But to be honest I wasn't really worried about the defensive side of things. We were thinking about attacking and that was the part of the game I excelled at.

The problem, though, is we played right into the All Blacks' hands for 50 or 60 minutes of the game. We gave them lots of loose ball and they did some sensational running with it.

The only saving grace I can take from the whole thing is that I wasn't steamrolled by Jonah for his four tries. Sadly that happened to all my team-mates after I got caught out of position.

I was one of the few Jonah actually ran around rather than through and it was amazing how he did it.

From a personal point of view, the first try was the worst. Andrew Mehrtens had just kicked off to the left where Lomu was charging forward.

You cannot help but look in awe at the way in which he took us apart

Will [Carling] knocked on the ball as it came our way and, from the resulting scrum, the ball came to Lomu who left me absolutely stranded on the ground.

He then trampled over both Will and Mike Catt, and the onslaught had begun.

It's not something I revel in watching again but you cannot help but look in awe at the way in which he took us apart.

The world had already stood up and taken notice of Jonah but on that day he became more than just a player, he became the essence of the World Cup.

He is such a phenomenal guy and I can only hope he comes back onto the world stage before too long.

Interview by Matt Majendie

Links to more History stories


Players remember

1995: Springbok victory


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