With the Autumn Internationals upon us, RW takes a look back at some memorable scores from recent series
Ireland fans must have thought it couldn’t get much better when their side led 14-0 after less than 20 minutes against an All Blacks team aiming for a clean sweep of wins in 2013. That was before Rob Kearney gathered a knock-on from Israel Dagg in his own 22 to race the distance of the field, away from the desperate cover of Kieran Read, to ignite scenes of unbridled ecstasy in the Aviva Stadium.
Trailing 19-6 at Twickenham, the Wallabies were attacking the England line in search of a score that would reignite the contest. Within seconds, England had secured turnover ball, quick thinking from Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes created a counter-attacking opportunity on the right wing, and Chris Ashton was flying clear of Drew Mitchell to splash down under the posts for 2010’s IRPA Try of the Year.
Although it was Springbok captain Jean de Villiers who finished this try last year, it is perhaps best remembered for the speedy brilliance of Bryan Habana. The fleet-footed winger spotted a mismatch in the Welsh defence to round Richard Hibbard, before leaving international rival George North trailing in his wake. Bismarck du Plessis provided the offload to put de Villiers in for the game’s opening score, as Wales went on to record another near-miss defeat at the hands of southern hemisphere opposition.
James Hook – Wales v South Africa, 2010
Three years before de Villiers’s score in this fixture, and on the day that George North made his try-scoring bow into international rugby, James Hook benefitted from the brilliance of another Welsh wing wizard. Shane Williams ran an audacious line to scythe through the Springbok defence after gathering the ball in midfield and send Hook in unchallenged during a humdinger of a Test match.
Brad Barritt – England v New Zealand, 2012
You could argue that Chris Ashton’s try on this record-breaking day was slightly more pleasing on the eye, but in terms of impact, Brad Barritt chose a perfect time to break his international duck. The Saracens centre drifted through a gap in the All Blacks defence following a fizzing pass from Owen Farrell, and a swift one-two with Manu Tuilagi allowed the brutish ball-carrier to kickstart a phenomenal second half display that saw England defeat New Zealand for the first time in a decade.
Christian Leali’ifano – Wales v Australia, 2013
This thrilling clash from last year featured a couple of vintage George North scores, but it was a stunning offload from Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper that ensured this try made the list. The fly-half’s deft pass out of the back of the hand to Joe Tomane on the wing left North flailing, and resulted in Christian Leali’ifano running in for the score. The clip below also features another audacious Cooper offload that typifies the unique talent he brings to the game.
Not one that Scotland fans will enjoy watching back. This flying score from wing Fetu’u Vainikolo was the decisive score in the Scots’ first defeat against Tonga, and it was a try worthy of winning any match. Collecting the ball in his own half, the Connacht man showed sharp acceleration to evade Stuart Hogg, Richie Gray et al on his way to the line.
Nick Cummins – England v Australia, 2012
The Honey Badger’s first international ‘meat pie’ two years ago was a memorable one. Scrum-half Nick Phipps produced a scintillating break in midfield before sending a questionably flat pass out to Cummins, who showed a clean pair of heels to avoid two English tacklers and score in the corner.