International Rugby greats went head to head at Ballymore in Brisbane tonight in a once in a lifetime clash between the Classic Anzacs and a British & Irish XV to raise much-needed funds for returned soldiers.
Staged by Triple M together with members of the Australian Defence Force the match was played nearly 24 years to the date since the Wallabies and All Blacks last teamed up against the Lions.
Classic Wallabies on show included Chris Latham, Stephen Larkham, Jeremy Paul, Sam Scott-Young, Nathan Grey, Garrick Morgan, David Croft and Matt Dunning, combining with former All Blacks Scott Robertson and Ofisa ‘Junior’ Tonu’u.
The British & Irish XV boasted 2001 Lions Rob Henderson and Darren Morris, as well as former Scottish flyhalf Craig Chalmers, English loose forwards Lewis Moody and Ben Clarke and Irish hard-man Trevor Brennan.
In a good omen for the Qantas Wallabies with the first Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour to be played at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, the Anzacs ran out comfortable winners 29-5.
With Brumbies backs coach and Wallabies legend Stephen Larkham marshaling the backline superbly the Classic Anzacs looked dangerous from the kick-off.
In the fourth minute the ball was swept from sideline to sideline resulting in winger Anthony Sauer beating the tackle of Isoa Vulagirua to score in the corner. Shane Drahm, doing a good imitation of Leigh Halfpenny, landed the touchline conversion to put the Classic Anzacs out to 7-0 after just four minutes.
The Anzacs then defended bravely holding off a number of sustained British & Irish XV attacks, and when they finally got back down the other end they made no mistake with Royal Australian Navy backrower James Smith crashing over. Chris Latham missed the conversion but after 15 minutes the Classic Anzacs led 12-0.
In a game highlight Fox Sports commentator Greg Martin burst over for a try on 28 minutes with Drahm again adding the extras to put the local combination ahead 19-0.
The current Wallabies would have been happy with the committed defence of the Anzacs for the remainder of the half but finally on the half time siren the British & Irish XV broke through with Welshmen Justin Thomas finishing off a well worked move.
Former Lions No 8 Ben Clarke missed the conversion to leave the half time score 19-5 to the Anzacs.
The score remained locked at 19-5 well into the second half with committed defence from the Anzacs continually repelling the British & Irish XV who enjoyed most of the possession.
And once again when the Anzacs got close to the British & Irish XV’s line they made no mistake with Karl Furey from NZ Navy crashing over. Tonu’u then added another five pointer to make it 29-5 to the Anzacs.
Ben Wyness from New Zealand Army almost raced away for a superb try for the Anzacs on the full time siren but dogged defence from the British & Irish XV bundled him into touch metres from the line.
The charities supported by the match were Mates4Mates, an Australian not-for-profit organisation which provides support to wounded or injured service personnel and their families, and equivalent charities in the UK (Help for Heroes) and New Zealand (The Fallen Heroes Trust).
TRIPLE M CLASSIC RUGBY
CLASSIC ANZACS 29 (Anthony Sauer, James Smith, Ofisa Junior Tonu’u, Greg Martin and Karl Furey tries; Shane Drahm 2 conversions) defeated British & Irish XV 5 (Justin Thomas try) at Ballymore. (Half Time: Classic Anzacs 19-5)