Incredible sporting drama
February 14, 2010
Morne Steyn is congratulated after winning the 2009 Lions series for South Africa © Getty Images
After Wales produced one of the all-time-great comebacks to defeat Scotland in their Six Nations showdown at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, we take a look back at some of the most dramatic finishes from the history of club and international rugby.
South Africa 28-25 British & Irish Lions,Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, South Africa, June 28, 2009
South Africa sealed the series against the British & Irish Lions with a 28-25 win in a classic Test match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn landed a penalty as the clock ticked over the 80 minute mark to crush the hopes of the tourists and their army of travelling fans.
Steyn's kick followed a game of fantastic drama and fierce combat, in which the Lions had seized a 16-8 half-time lead thanks to a try from the immaculate Rob Kearney. The Springboks scored tries of their own through JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie, but were kept honest by a majestic performance with the boot from Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones.
Time, as was shown last weekend, is not a luxury afforded at Test match level. The Springboks looked to have conceded the draw after Steyn saw a drop goal roll harmlessly in to the arms of Kearney, only for one last blow of the referee's whistle to hand the Bulls man his shot at a place in history. Ronan O'Gara, chasing his own kick, knocked du Preez out of the air and conceded a penalty 50 metres out. Steyn, with a swagger belying his inexperience, sent the kick straight and true to break the hearts of the Lions.
Harlequins 19-17 Stade Francais, Heineken Cup, Twickenham Stoop, England, December 13, 2008
Harlequins snatched a dramatic 19-17 victory over Stade Francais with the last kick of the game in their Heineken Cup clash at the Twickenham Stoop. A last-gasp drop goal from fly-half Nick Evans followed a thrilling final passage of play that spanned 29 exhilarating phases. Stade Francais looked on course to exact revenge for their defeat in Paris when Argentina fullback Juan Martin Hernandez slotted a drop-goal with just eight minutes remaining but the home side rallied once more for an epic final onslaught.
Twice Evans was lined up in the pocket for long range drop-goals but with the Stade defence closing in he opted to cut inside on a mazy runs that took his side deep into their rival's 22. In the frantic moments that followed Ugo Monye first went close to scoring a try before a succession of forwards and backs looked for an opening in the visitors' defence. In the end Evans dropped back once more before scuffing his effort over the posts. The referee needed to go to the Television Match Official to confirm the score but Quins needed no such ruling to start their celebrations.
Australia 17-20 England, Rugby World Cup Final, Sydney, Australia, November 22, 2003
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson kicked England to Rugby World Cup glory with an extra-time drop goal to set the seal on the northern hemisphere's first victory in the sport's global showpiece.
Wilkinson's last-gasp effort was all that separated the sides after 100 minutes of intense rugby and was a fitting finale to a brilliant tournament. Jason Robinson and Lote Tuqiri had traded tries while Elton Flatley and Wilkinson had traded penalties to set up the most dramatic of conclusion.
London Wasps 27-20 Toulouse, Heineken Cup Final, Twickenham, England, May 23, 2004
With time running out, veteran scrum-half Rob Howley conjured an opening with a cunning grubber kick up the left touchline that Toulouse fullback Clement Poitrenaud tried to usher into touch or the in-goal area.
Howley dived for the ball and claimed the try but Irish referee Alain Rolland went to the Television Match Official before awarding the score. The try gave the Premiership side a crucial advantage with just seconds to play and Mark Van Gisbergan added the conversion to seal the win.
Australia 35-39 New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2000
One of the sport's greatest games was also blessed with a dramatic finish. An injury-time try from Jonah Lomu earned New Zealand a stunning victory over arch rivals Australia in Sydney in front of a world record crowd of 109,874 at Stadium Australia.
The All Blacks raced into a 21-0 lead early on but were pegged back by John Eales' superb Wallabies side. Stirling Mortlock scored twice, with Chris Latham, Joe Roff and Jeremy Paul also crashing over. It was all in vain, though, as Lomu powered in to add another chapter to his thrilling career.
Leicester Tigers 13-12 Llanelli Scarlets, Heineken Cup semi-final, City Ground, April 28, 2002
Tim Stimpson kicked a last-gasp penalty from five metres inside his own half that hit the post and the cross bar before going over. His 60m effort booked Leicester's place in the 2002 Heineken Cup Final where they would go on to beat Munster.
The Scarlets had scrapped for all they were worth at the home of Nottingham Forest and looked certain to book a place in the final. Stephen Jones had been in fine form with the boot but was undone by the ever-accurate Stimpson.
Bulls 20-19 Sharks, Super 14 Final, ABSA Stadium, Durban, South Africa, May 19, 2007
The Bulls snatched a dramatic victory over South African rivals the Sharks in a pulsating Super 14 Final in Durban. Speedster Bryan Habana cut his way through a tired Sharks defence for an injury-time try that set up the match-winning conversion that was slotted by fly-half Derick Hougaard.
Later in the year South Africa lifted the World Cup, with the foundations being laid by the key players in this final. Springbok skipper John Smit was on the losing side, and is yet to win the southern hemisphere's premier club competition.