What to do when you are twelve years old and the Wallabies look like they’ll beat the All Blacks in a test series for the second time in a row? (which they actually never did do on those old-style tours in NZ or over there) Well exactly, you storm off to your bedroom and bury your face under a pillow to drown out the commentary as the tears start to well.
That was just after the Wallabies number 12, that swine Michael Hawker had landed the mother of all drop goals from behind halfway to give the dastardly Wallabies the lead on half-time in the final test of 1982 at Eden Park. After the 1980 ‘dagger through the heart’ 10-26 humiliation (and believe me, it was just that) in the decider at the Sydney Cricket Ground, it just got all a bit much to take when that peach/grapefruit of a drop kick of Hawker’s sailed over with acres to spare. I mean, what the f@*# did we have to do to see off those bastards?
Mark Ella and the teenaged David Campese making us look like lead-foots was punishing enough. Fifty-five metre drop kicks were the straw that broke the besotted kid’s back. Keith Quinn exclaimed it as “…the goal of the century”. And it bloody-well was. What next? Another brilliant try like the one Campese scored on Athletic Park in the second test? It would have been unbearable.
Fortunately, things changed around rapidly. The Wallabies couldn’t foot it in the second-half Forwards battle. And they were frequently penalised. On this day Allan Hewson had the golden boots on. He’d probably have landed some right-footed if he’d chosen to. The draw on his kicks were like a thing of beauty at normal times. On this day they looked heavenly. The Wallabies torpedoed by the Adidas with the black-tipped end, curving inexorably over those beautiful blue and white goal posts. And definitely best of all, a chief tormentor from the 1980 third test in Peter Grigg, hurling the ball over the ad hoardings to negate a quick throw in. Hewson landed the resultant penalty from a good distance away. What a moment. Demons banishing time. Yowzaa! And a world test record haul for Hewie. 26 points.
33-18 was the final score. There was also a beautifully-conceived try to the galloping Roger Gould in the very first minute for Australia. It was the day of the fullbacks. I’ll contend to my dying day that that particular try by Gould became the prototype for the stacks of tries that Auckland scored under John Hart in the 1984 NPC (seventy, yes you read that right)- still far and away a record. And one that will most likely never be eclipsed.
And that 1982 third test? Still my favourite All Blacks-Wallabies encounter. Yep; better than the ‘test of the century’ from the Sydney Olympic stadium in 2000. Although a very close second is the 2011 World Cup semi-final when we played almost to perfection in light of the magnitude of the game and related strengths of the Aussies. And those two bone-jarring tackles from Richard Kahui on Quade from that match- almost as good as Grigg being done for biffing the ball away twenty-nine years before.