August 6 down the years
Lions edge epic encounter
Irish winger Tony O'Reilly of the Lions fends off D J Davison of the Junior All Blacks, Lions v Junior All Blacks, Lions Tour, Wellington, September 14, 1959
Tony O'Reilly was among the Lions try-scorers in the win over South Africa in Pretoria © Getty Images

The Lions claimed a thrilling 23-22 victory over South Africa in the first Test in Pretoria. In what is regarded as one of the finest games ever played, the tourists outscored their hosts by five tries to four, with Jeff Butterfield, Jim Greenwood, Cliff Morgan, Tony O'Reilly and Cecil Pedlow all touching down for the Lions. However, Jack van der Schyff had the chance to win the game for the Springboks in the dying seconds but the full-back's failed conversion attempt saw the visitors claim a 1-0 series lead. The Springboks bounced back with a commanding 25-9 win in Cape Town, but the Lions managed to subdue their natural instincts to play open, carefree rugby in the third Test to grind out a 9-6 victory. Glory beckoned for the Lions as they arrived in Port Elizabeth for the decider, but the Springboks carved out a 22-8 win to draw the series. It was disappointing end to the tour but nobody really did seem to mind to much because the flamboyant Lions of 1955 had done more for the legend of Lions rugby than any side that had gone before them.

Randolph Aston racked up his seventh try in two games by bagging a hat-trick for the Lions in their 16-0 win over King William's Town. The England centre scored four tries against the same opposition just two days previously.

The Lions kicked off their tour of New Zealand with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Canterbury/South Canterbury/West Coast Combined. David Bedell-Sivright justified his selection as captain by scoring the Lions' only try.

The Lions were on the wrong end of a 26-12 scoreline in their first Test against the Springboks - despite leading three times during the game in Johannesburg.

New Zealand fullback Bob Scott landed a drop goal and a penalty to earn the All Blacks a 6-3 victory over Northern Transvaal at Loftus Versfeld.

The Lions went down 16-12 in their second Test against New Zealand. The Lions did not manage a single try in the game but their performance was a vast improvement on the one they produced in the demoralising 20-3 defeat by the All Blacks three weeks earlier. However, Wellington was to be as good as it got for the tourists as they ultimately suffered the ignominy of a series whitewashe, losing 4-0 to a strong Kiwi side.

Phil Bennett inspired the Lions to an 18-7 triumph over North Auckland at Whangarei, the captain landing penalties and a conversion. Ian McGeechan scored the tourists' try.


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