Day the crowd dared to sense a magical day
It was rugby’s version of McGuigan going toe-to-toe with Pedrosa
Jonah Lomu of New Zealand is tackled by Shane Horgan and Brian O’Driscoll of Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 2001. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho
David Humphreys of Ireland is tackled by Leon McDonald and Aaron Mauger of New Zealand. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho
Shane Horgan of Ireland and Tana Umaga of New Zealand. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho
Greg Feek leads the Haka prior to the All Blacks win over Ireland in Dublin in 2001. Photograph: Ross Land/Getty Images
One hundred and twenty two Test matches later and rugby’s greatest ever flanker, arguably the most influential All Black of all time, is one of just two survivors from the all too brief tremor that occurred on November 17th, 2001.
Two minutes into the second half Brian O’Driscoll glided outside Andrew Merhtens, enticing Anton Oliver and Doug Howlett into a gang tackle before a one-handed offload gifted Denis Hickie the easiest of his 29 international tries.
It was the same Havelock Square corner that Gordon Hamilton frightened the life out of Australia in 1991 and Mick Galwey met his sister in 1993. With the foundations of the old ground still shaking, David Humphreys skewered the conversion but Ireland had galloped into a commanding 21-7 lead.
Glutton for punishment
Humphreys was magnificent and fragile all in the same game, kicking wonderfully from hand while an inside dummy to the glutton for punishment that was Keith Wood after just 11 minutes allowed him put Kevin Maggs under the posts.
“I made damn sure whenever Lomu got the ball I was right beside him so I could jump on his back and wait for the cavalry to arrive,” said Horgan.
The perfect mix of boot, bullock and skill, the crowd dared to sense a magical day was upon them.
This was the day the spell would finally be broken; it was rugby’s version of McGuigan going toe-to-toe with Pedrosa.
Humphreys ensured Ireland’s jab landed with regular venom to leave it 16-7 at the turn.
Then came O’Driscoll’s uppercut.
What followed was a chillingly clinical response.
The dream quickly transcended into blackness.
Before Lomu swatted him aside for the defining try, Humphreys landed a drop goal to make it 24-19. There were 19 minutes remaining.
It was more than enough for the All Blacks, who tightened the screw, then tightened it a little more.
The attrition told as Horgan was followed off the field by John Hayes.
“They’ve just slipped into auto-pilot,” said Philip Matthews in the commentary box of the Irish players.
The young McCaw and Byron Kelleher swarmed, clearing and creating, as it eventually finished 40-29.