25 May 2017

The King is dead; long live the King

5:24 pm on 25 May 2017

Feature - In the lead-up to the 2017 Lions Tour, Matt Richens is looking back at the moments no-one can forget from their last visit in 2005.

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Daniel Carter scores a try during the second test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in July 2005. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

2005 - Second Test, July 2, Wellington: All Blacks 48; Lions 18

England's 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson had fair claims to being the best rugby player in the world in the early 2000s and was voted as such by the IRB in 2003, until a winter night in Wellington where he was usurped by a young Canterbury country kid making just his sixth start in the All Blacks No 10 jersey.

"Move over, mate, this is how it's done."

Wilkinson had played at second five for the Lions' first up loss to the All Blacks in Christchurch where the 21-3 scoreline flattered his side's awful effort.

But Sir Clive Woodward and the British media had overshadowed that result by grandstanding about Bryan O'Driscoll's injury. Woodward's shortcomings, his poor Plan A and complete lack of Plan B were conveniently swept under the carpet.

While Woodward's whinging dominated the week between tests - even more so than the 109-6 midweek win over Manawatu - the weekends belonged to Dan Carter. Jonny who?

Carter was electric. And in better conditions than test one, the All Blacks were a class above and able to run in five tries. Carter kicked nine goals too. It was a rout.

There was fire in this game on the back of the trumped up controversy around the O'Driscoll tackle.

All Blacks Tama Umaga and Keven Mealamu were more hated in the UK than their own football teams after an early World Cup exit.

And when O'Driscoll's replacement as skipper Gareth Thomas scored after just 94 seconds, the Lions were pumped. They were in the All Blacks' faces and hooting and hollering. It didn't last.

Wilkinson had a chance of putting his side 10-0 up, but his penalty hit the upright. The Lions took the deflection and went close to scoring again but gave away a silly attacking penalty.

From there it was the Carter show.

All Black first five-eights Daniel Carter on the attack during the 2nd test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington,New Zealand on Saturday 2 July 2005

Dan Carter in full flight against the Lions Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Lions were much better than in Christchurch - though the bar was pretty low - but the All Blacks were twice the team of test one.

In the 18th minute the Lions coughed up the ball and the Carter show began. He ran 60m down the left edge and offloaded to captain Umaga, who scored. 13-7 ABs.

Carter played a part in Sitiveni Sivivatu scoring his sixth try in three tests and the home side led 21-13 at the break.

Southbridge's favourite son's second-half performance was the best of his 112 tests.

Some would argue he lived off this performance for some time, some would criticise him for not doing it more often during his long career while others would enjoy it for the once in a generation showing that it was.

He scored two tries, converted them both, and the try of Richie McCaw, and was successful with both his penalty attempts. He scored 33 on the night; the Lions only scored 40 in three tests.

Carter's first try was out on the right wing; he beat one then with just Wilkinson to beat, he chipped past him, regathered and scored. He figuratively and literally scooted past Wilkinson.

He was untouched in his second, cutting inside Lions fullback Josh Lewsey to put the cherry on top of an already dominant night.

"Has there been a more commanding performance by a number 10 for a long long time," Sky commentator Ian Smith asked at the time. No, Smithy, there hadn't.

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The All Blacks celebrate their second win against the Lions. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

If the Lions' spirit was tested in Christchurch, it was shattered in Wellington. The series was gone, as were any questions over whether or not the Lions were in the same league as the All Blacks.

They headed north to take on Auckland on their Tuesday game and while they won that, 17-13, they were only killing time before what everyone predicted to be a third test hammering. More on that next week.

Who, when and where

Test 2: 2 July, 2005 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Christchurch

Crowd: 39,800

All Blacks: 21 (Ali Williams, Sitiveni Sivisatu tries, Dan Carter 3 pens, conv)

Lions: 3 (Wilkinson pen) HT 11-0

New Zealand 48 (Dan Carter 2, Richie McCaw, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Tana Umaga tries, Carter 4 conv, 5 pens) Lions 18 (Simon Easterby, Gareth Thomas tries, Wilkinson 1 conv, 2 pens) HT: 21-13.

Attendance: 39,800

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All Blacks fans at Westpac Stadium. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks: Mils Muliaina, Rico Gear, Tana Umaga (c), Aaron Mauger, Sitiveni Sivivatu; Dan Carter, Byron Kelleher, Rodney So'oialo, Richie McCaw, Jerry Collins, Ali Williams, Chris Jack, Greg Sommerville, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Res: Derren Witcombe, Campbell Johnstone, Jono Gibbes, Sione Lauaki, Justin Marshall, Ma'a Nonu, Leon MacDonald.

Lions: Josh Lewsey, Jason Robinson, Gareth Thomas (c), Gavin Henson, Shane Williams, Jonny Wilkinson, Dwayne Peel, Ryan Jones, Lewis Moody, Simon Easterby, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, Julian White, Steve Thompson, Gethin Jenkins. Res: Shane Byrne, Graham Rowntree, Martin Corry, Martyn Williams, Matt Dawson, Stephen Jones, Shane Horgan.

Referee: Andrew Cole (Australia)

Matt Richens has been a sports journalist for 11 years. He attributes his premature baldness to the stress of being a sports fan.