RWC #6: David Campese’s magic pass

Moment of genius helps Australia dispatch All Blacks in 1991 semi at Lansdowne Road

David Campese inspired Australia to victory over the All Blacks in the 1991 World Cup semi-final at Lansdowne Road. Photograph: Getty

David Campese inspired Australia to victory over the All Blacks in the 1991 World Cup semi-final at Lansdowne Road. Photograph: Getty

 

Australia and New Zealand played each other for the first time in 1903 but it wasn’t until 1991 theymet on neutral soil. The venue, Lansdowne Road. The occasion, the World Cup semi-final.

New Zealand had progressed into the last four having beaten England in the pools before cruising past Canada in the quarter-finals. Australia meanwhile had just emerged from a clash for the ages against Ireland, where Michael Lynagh’s last gasp score broke Irish hearts.

But despite this the Lansdowe Road crowd, having witnessed Nick Farr-Jones’ side pip their heroes a week earlier, were firmly behind the Wallabies as they took to the pitch against the All Blacks.

And Australia flew out of the blocks as though they were in Brisbane rather than Ballsbridge, dominating the All Blacks in a manner which has only happened a handful of times throughout history.

Australia controlled possession and territory to the extent New Zealand outhalf Grant Fox didn’t have his first shot at goal until the second half.

As in the quarter-final, David Campese was at the heart of everything Australia did, and he set the tone with a try after seven minutes.

Australia had a lineout on the near touchline and moved the ball right. As it came back, Campese had positioned himself at flyhalf. He set off on a diagonal line, the ball tucked under his right armpit and Phil Kearns and Bob Egerton outside him.

But instead of passing, or stepping, or checking inside, Campese kept his line, the All Blacks defence stood off for a vital moment and ‘Campo’ shot like a bullet into the corner.

And while Campese’s try was a moment of genius it paled into insignificance compared to his next act. Lynagh kicked the ball in behind and Campese ran onto it. He weaved left and right and then goose-stepped back inside, creating a vital bit of space on the right flank.

Then, with his eyes looking infield, Campese played the most audacious, reverse ball over his right shoulder and to Tim Horan who sailed over in the corner.

It was a moment of pure genius from a pure genius. Australia were 13-0 up and New Zealand were finished.

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