Belfast Telegraph

Great Scott, Lions' number comes up

Billy on the Box

The world is a vastly different beast since Lions last roamed the piece of earth frequented by Wallabies in the southern hemisphere.

Back in 2001, the world's finances were in a much healthier state, Scott Quinnell was still earning a living as a rugby player and there were only a handful of nations involved.

A dozen years on and it's all change. We're all skint, life is a postcode lottery for Quinnell and the Test players are gathered from all corners of the globe, even holiday-makers get to play. And for the other team.

Sky commentator Miles Harrison tried to look on the bright side of life on Saturday morning as the waiting, but not the talking, ended and the First Test finally arrived.

"There is a lot more gold in Brisbane than there was 12 years ago," a reference to the predominant colour of shirts in the crowd as the Celtic Tiger has long since left the Lions and no-one has a pot at the end of the rainbow in which to deposit liquid of a golden hue.

What we needed was a genie to grant our wishes, or failing that a giant excitable Welshman with a lottery ticket, and the former duly arrived 12 minutes into the match when a moment of magic from Will Genia cast the Lions asunder.

"The genie pops out of the bottle," said Stuart Barnes, watching the replay as Israel Folau romped home for the opening try.

Much changed times indeed, we expect the Aussies to have a few Pacific Islanders sneaking in to the team but when they start importing stars from the Middle East, then it's time to ask questions.

Thankfully to balance things up they played a man with no feet as kicker and an O'Connor hasn't looked so out of his depth since Des was doing Countdown.

There were other flashbacks to a golden age, BOD being harshly treated and not even a milkshake to ease his pain, while Cuthbert made a right clanger and dropped the ball. No doubt Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Dibble and Grub were raging.

So with trouble brewing in the south, it was time to look North and by George it duly arrived, the giant Welsh wing providing some upward thrust for the Lions.

"He's shouldering the hopes and still only 21, 6ft 4, 17 and a half stone and flies like that Jumbo Jet," said Miles, and off screen the Qantas Choir who had earlier belted out Advance Australia Fair wondered if they had to come on again.

Normal service resumed quickly for Cuthbert, a try at the start of the second-half and Miles was off again: "Can there be a better feeling for that young man? Bold and beautiful," he said, with unconfirmed reports that they'd be dancing in the streets of Trumpton tonight.

The game turned with the departure of O'Connor to be replaced by Beale.

At this stage, Ian or Cindy would have been a better choice, but on came Kurtley, knocking over a couple of kicks and then missing a vital one to put the hosts back in the lead.

Chance one gone, but like big Scott turning up with an even bigger cheque, the lottery that was the ref's decision making came up for the Aussies and in the dying seconds a second chance for Beale.

"A moment of redemption," Miles mused, and up stepped Beale, a man who has had more drama in his life than the average Eastender, but as he stepped up, Miles switched from Alan Partridge to Frank Spencer with a big 'Oooooooh, he's slipped!' and you expected the 'dum-dum-dum-di-di-di-dum' and a map of the Brisbane River to appear.

Back in the studio, there were smiles all round for Paul Wallace, Sir Ian McGeechan and Quinnell, presenter Alex Payne wondering 'have the Lions played their get out of jail free card?'

"Got out of jail? Yes, but I don't care, it's a win. The fans will drink, they will eat, they will be merry, they will turn up in force again next week," beamed Quinnell as five men from Trumpton boarded a Jumbo Jet bound for Sydney.

Belfast Telegraph


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