Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Woodward Damned by Fail of the Century

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Woodward Damned by Fail of the Century

Article excerpt

Byline: By Andrew Baldock

Josh Lewsey has hailed New Zealand as rugby's world leaders after an All Blacks battering that rewrote Lions Test-match history.

Sir Clive Woodward's squad drew a Test-series blank for the first time since 1983 ( when Woodward visited New Zealand as a player ( and conceded a record 107 points, scoring just three tries, while conceding 12.

Those damning statistics make it the worst tour ( in Test-match terms ( the Lions have experienced during more than 100 years of overseas expeditions.

New Zealand "blackwashed" them in 1966 and 1983, but not by such demoralising margins of 21-3, 48-18 and 38-19, while the Lions' overall record against the All Blacks now shows just six victories from 38 starts.

Confirmation of their demise came amid another one-sided encounter as New Zealand triumphed through touchdowns from skipper Tana Umaga (2), his midfield partner Conrad Smith, wing Rico Gear and lock Ali Williams.

Fly-half newcomer Luke McAlister booted all five conversions and landed a penalty, and the Lions could only respond through a Lewis Moody try and 14 points from goalkicker Stephen Jones.

Woodward's pounds 9m adventure ended with another predictable defeat and more misery for 20,000 travelling Lions fans, but England star Lewsey offered a philosophical view of the series.

"We were pretty ashamed of our first-Test performance, and in the second Test we gave it everything but just weren't good enough and got beaten by a better side," he said.

"We tried to take the lessons on board, and we tried to play with ball in hand a bit more, but it takes time to develop. Natural ability will only get you so far, and you have to put your hand up and say they were better than us.

"My biggest disappointment is that this group of players is too talented and too good to go down in history as being a bunch of players that lost a series 3-0, but it has happened and we have got to get on with it. …

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