Great tries against the All Blacks: Memorable but painful

By David Leggat

The French are ecstatic with their test series win over the All Blacks in 1994.
Photo / Paul Estcourt
The French are ecstatic with their test series win over the All Blacks in 1994. Photo / Paul Estcourt

1 Gareth Edwards, for Barbarians
Cardiff, January 27, 1973

Okay we've all seen it a 100 times, but it still stirs the emotions, still deserves its place among the all-time great tries, never mind just against the All Blacks.

The Barbarians team was based around the triumphant 1971 Lions team in New Zealand. Belatedly this was a chance for a reunion of sorts, with the traditional uncapped player, England lock Bob Wilkinson, never heard of before or since.

But it was a top class Barbarians side, the All Blacks were at the end of one of their most controversial tours, a four-month trek involving 32 matches, and during which prop Keith Murdoch had been banished.

Not that this should sound like the All Blacks were stiff that day. Rather, the Barbarians won well 23-11. Both teams scored fine tries, but the magic moment happened inside the first five minutes.

After Bryan Williams kicked deep into Barbarians territory, first five-eighth Phil Bennett gathered the ball 5m out from their line with flanker Alastair Scown bearing down hard on him.

Bennett, a nimble, clever attacker, scooted round Scown's challenge, then wrong-footed Ian Hurst, Peter Whiting and Ian Kirkpatrick.

After JPR Williams kept the ball alive, it went through four pairs of hands - John Pullin, John Dawes, Tom David and Derek Quinnell who then aimed his pass to John Bevan, the flying left winger. Except it didn't reach him. Edwards sped between the pair, shot past the despairing Joe Karam's tackle, sprinted 35m and dived across in the corner.

Cardiff went ballistic. Commentator and former Welsh rugby hero Cliff Morgan was in raptures.

Two things caught the eye on the latest viewing of this: if/when you watch it again, note how far behind the play Edwards was as the ball was being transported out of the Barbarians then-25 yard line. You realise he actually sprinted about 75m to catch up to play then complete the movement.

And then look really closely at that last pass. In these more forensically-inclined days would the try have been called back for a forward pass? It doesn't matter, anyway. A fabulous moment.

How's this for a team: JPR Williams, David Duckham, John Dawes, Mike Gibson, John Bevan, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards, Derek Quinnell, Fergus Slattery, Tom David, Willie-John McBride, Bob Wilkinson, Sandy Carmichael, John Pullin, Ray McLoughlin.

2 Jean Luc Sadourny, for France
Eden Park, July 3, 1994

France had won the first test in Christchurch 22-8 a week earlier. History beckoned for the French, a first series win over New Zealand.

But as the clock wound down it seemed that ambition would be dashed. The All Blacks led 20-16 with three minutes left as first five-eighth Stephen Bachop punted deep into France's 22 on their left; the sort of play designed to frustrate an opponent chasing a game.

When left wing Philippe Saint-Andre picked up the ball, he saw the All Black line about 85m away and a sea of black and blue jerseys in front of him.

He made good ground and, from the resulting ruck, hooker Jean-Michel Gonzalez flung the ball to the right to Bachop's opposite Christophe Deylaud.

On it went to big blindside flanker Abdel Benazzi who galloped forward over halfway. Dashing wing Emile N'tamack took over and cut infield, doing a scissors move with flanker Laurent Cabannes, who did likewise with Deylaud, leading the All Black defence a merry dance.

When the ball reached little halfback Guy Accoceberry, running hard across the posts to the left, it seemed the try would be his. Instead he passed it to classy fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny.

So to Sadourny went the honour of scoring the try which won the test 23-20 and the series, and has come to be known as "The Try from the End of the World".

3 Tom Horan, for Australia
Dublin, October 27, 1991

Actually chalk this one up for David Campese, for it was his sleight-of-hand which finally killed off the already-shredded All Blacks defence in the World Cup semifinal at Lansdowne Road.

The simple narrative is like this: the Wallabies' champion first five-eighth Michael Lynagh, whose last-minute try had got them past valiant Ireland on the same ground in the quarter-final a week earlier, chipped over the top. All Black fullback Kieran Crowley was undone by a bad bounce, Campese got his hands on the ball, drew the last couple of defenders then in a moment of sheer instinctive brilliance, threw an outrageous over-the-shoulder pass to Horan, backing up as ever.

He scooted across for the second try which put Australia out to a 13-0 lead before halftime. Game over. The try nailed shut the prospects of the All Blacks defending the inaugural title they won four years earlier. The search for that second crown is ongoing.

In the early minutes of the semifinal, Campese had dashed into first five-eighth, took a pass and sped left. The All Black defence was befuddled and Campese, toying with them, crossed near the lefthand corner.

The Horan try simply added another layer to Campese's standing as the game's greatest entertainer of the day.

The All Blacks were unable to make much headway, the backs were ordinary - David Hands wrote in the Times of "an abdication of responsibility behind the (All Black) scrum" - and there was no question the superior side won, and went on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup a week later for the first time.

Back to Campese.

The praise flowed in the British papers, who had also reported on England's desperately stodgy 9-6 win over Scotland in the other semifinal the day before.

Sports columnist Martin Johnson (no, not the other one) wondered how, if Campese had been born English, they would have utilised his skills. "They [would have] probably [made] him the coach driver," he wrote.

The final word to Australia's captain Nick Farr-Jones. "I thought 'Campo' had his best year in 1988 when he played phenomenal football. But this year I think he has even eclipsed that performance."

- NZ Herald

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