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Seán O’Brien’s Lions stunner shortlisted for try of the year

Ireland flanker finished off the try of the tour in opening All Blacks Test at Eden Park

Seán O’Brien touches down to score against the All Blacks at Eden Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It was one of the moments of the sporting summer - a score which made the world take notice and let the supposedly invincible All Blacks know they were in a real fight.

June 24th 2017, the opening Test at Eden Park. The touring Lions were trailing 13-3 to world champions New Zealand.

The ball is kicked deep to Welsh fullback Liam Williams. Williams sells Kieran Read and ghosts infield, before straightening up and leaving Sonny Bill Williams on the deck with twisted blood.

He cruises up to halfway, assessing his options before being swamped by an inevitable wave of Kiwi cover.

But before he’s submerged he sees compatiot Jonathan Davies making a perfect supporting run off the shoulder and sets the centre free.


Davies finds Elliot Daly on the left wing and he intricately uses the smallest of green spaces to stand up Anton Lienert-Brown and get down the outside, finding Davies with a return ball.

Davies is inside the five-metre and Beauden Barrett is in a spin. The All Blacks outhalf holds up his man but Davies turns - turns to see the Tullow Tank steaming in to support.

Sean O’Brien takes the ball, steps and is over the line - the Lions had roared for the first time.

Warren Gatland’s tourists went on to lose that opening Test 30-15, but O’Brien’s try was the first significant marker they laid down, and a sign of things to come as the series was eventually drawn 1-1.

And O’Brien’s stunning score has now been named on the shortlist for the International Rugby Players’ Association’s try of the year award.

O’Brien’s try is one of four shortlisted for the award - Portia Woodman’s effort for New Zealand women against the USA, Joaquin Tuculet’s score for Argentina against England and Georgia Under-20 scrum-half Gela Aprasidze’s effort against Ireland are also in the running.

Should O’Brien win try of the year he would be emulating his backrow companion Jamie Heaslip, whose score against Italy in the Six Nations earned him the 2016 award.

The winner will be determined by a Twitter vote, which opens on November 9th and closes on November 26th.

Previous winners:

2016 - Jamie Heaslip (Ireland) - Ireland v Italy
2015 - Julian Savea (New Zealand) - New Zealand v France
2014 - Francois Hougaard (South Africa) - South Africa v New Zealand
2013 - Beauden Barrett (New Zealand) - New Zealand v France
2012 - Bryan Habana (South Africa) - South Africa v New Zealand
2011 - Radike Samo (Australia) - Australia v New Zealand
2010 - Chris Ashton (England) - England v Australia
2009 - Jaque Fourie (South Africa) - South Africa v British and Irish Lions
2008 - Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) - Australia v Ireland
2007 - Takudzwa Ngwenya (USA) - South Africa v USA