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NZ Maori Serve Up First Lions’ Defeat

NZ Maori Serve Up First Lions’ Defeat

Brian O’Driscoll’s late try was not enough to prevent the British and Irish Lions from slipping to their first defeat of the 2005 tour – a 19-13 slump to the New Zealand Maori.

Brian O’Driscoll’s late try was not enough to prevent the British and Irish Lions from slipping to their first defeat of the 2005 tour – a 19-13 slump to the New Zealand Maori.

Lions Tour 2005: Saturday, June 11
New Zealand Maori 19 Lions 13, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Scorers: NZ Maori: Try: Leon MacDonald; Con: Luke McAlister; Pens: David Hill 2, McAlister 2
Lions: Try: Brian O’Driscoll; Con: Stephen Jones; Pens: Jones 2

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In what has come to be known as the “unofficial fourth Test”, the inspired Maori were just too good for the tourists, holding onto possession and dictating the play for much of this Hamilton humdinger.

Locked at 6-6 at the break, and down to 14-men thanks to England prop Andy Sheridan’s 38th-minute yellow card for a silly punch on Maori centre Rua Tipoki.

The Maoris’ first victory over the Lions in seven attempts since 1930 was founded in a dominant second period, after Wales’ Stephen Jones (14, 37 minutes) and Maori fly-half David Hill (17, 24) had swapped a brace of first half penalties.

Clearly rattled by their failure to dominate at scrum-time, with their much-heralded 54-stone front row, the Lions were increasingly off the boil in the third quarter – especially at the breakdown.

The Maori, sensing an historic win, threw on mercurial All-Black Carlos Spencer, in his last outing before linking up with English side Northampton, early in the second half and he helped strengthen their resolve.

Former New Zealand Under-21 Luke McAlister clipped over a 50th-minute penalty before nine minutes later, the home crowd were celebrating a crucial try.

Spencer was involved in the mood, doing the groundwork for a left wing spurt that saw full-back Leon MacDonald driven over. McAlister’s conversion put daylight between the sides with the Maori 16-6 in front.

Captain O’Driscoll and company had little to offer in reply, and McAlister tagged on another penalty on 67 minutes to leave the result in little doubt.

O’Driscoll, who failed to fire along with Leinster and Ireland team mate Gordon D’Arcy in the Lions midfield, did notch a try six minutes later to raise the visitors’ hopes.

Munster and Ireland’s Paul O’Connell was, in truth, the only Lion to come near to his usual form, as the 6ft 6in lock pinched a number of Maori lineouts.

O’Driscoll lunged onto a flat Jones pass for his try and stepping inside McAlister, rounded in behind the posts.

Jones converted for a six-point deficit and although a late Martyn Williams break could have seen England full-back Josh Lewsey nab a second try, but for some pulling back from the Maori defence, the home side ran out the clock as deserved winners.

NZ Maori: Leon MacDonald; Rico Gear, Rua Tipoki, Luke McAlister, Caleb Ralph; David Hill, Piri Weepu; Deacon Manu, Corey Flynn, Carl Hayman, Ross Filipo, Sean Hohneck, Jono Gibbes (Capt), Marty Holah, Angus MacDonald.

Replacements used: Carlos Spencer for Hill (43 mins). Greg Feek for Manu (52), Daniel Braid for Filipo (73). Not used: Scott Linklater, Wayne Ormond, Craig McGrath, Neil Brew.


(15) Josh Lewsey (London Wasps/England)

(14) Tom Shanklin (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

(13) Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster/Ireland) (Captain)
(12) Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland)

(11) Shane Williams (The Ospreys/Wales)

(10) Stephen Jones (Clermont Auvergne/Wales)

(9) Matt Dawson (London Wasps/England)

(1) Andy Sheridan (Sale Sharks/England)
(2) Steve Thompson (Northampton Saints/England)
(3) Julian White (Leicester Tigers/England)
(4) Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
(5) Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) (Vice-Captain)
(6) Richard Hill (Saracens/England)
(7) Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales)

(8) Michael Owen (Newport-Gwent Dragons/Wales)

Replacements used: Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland) for Jones (26-32 mins), Shane Horgan (Leinster/IrelandShane Byrne (Leinster/Ireland) for Thompson (73). Not used: Ben Kay (Leicester Tigers/England), Simon Easterby (Llanelli Scarlets/Ireland), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli Scarlets/Wales).

Sin-bin: Andy Sheridan (Lions) (38 mins)
HT: NZ Maori 6 Lions 6; Attendance: 26,500
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)