The day the Boot roared in Christchurch     24 Jun 2005

Clear skies, soft track... and as a potential kicking duel looms tomorrow night between Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter, ex-All Black first-five Ross Brown had a ball’s eye view of what remains one of the greatest goal-kicking displays in rugby history.

In a match still capable of provoking debate, fullback Don Clarke kicked the All Blacks to a 18-17 victory in the first Test against a star-studded British Lions outfit, despite their opponents scoring four tries to nil.

“Tony O’Reilly scored a good try on the wing for them,” Brown recalls. “I was marking Bev Risman. Bev was a great guy and a sharp five-eighth. Quick. They were all pretty quick those Lions... they were a wee bit unlucky not to win the series.”

Had he been any closer to “The Boot” that day at Carisbrook, Brown would have been doing up two pairs of laces.

“He put three of those penalties over from right on the sideline from 45 or even 50m, one from straight in front and another two from 40m or more. His timing was absolutely sensational. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was freakish.”

“The ball was caked in mud... DB got a bit off but it was still heavy as hell, yet when he kicked the thing it damn near flew right out of the ground. That’s why I always rate him our best fullback.”

While no goal kicker himself, Brown was not exactly shy with his own footwork - landing ten dropped goals in one game alone in a career spanning well over 100 matches for Taranaki.

"That ’59 Test we had a flanker from Manawatu, Brian Finlay, who got hurt midway through the first spell. Then our No 8 Peter Jones pulled a hamstring. No replacements back then. So with Jonesy limping around the place we only had six forwards for most of that second half. Everyone says we got beaten up front and that’s true, but there was a reason.

“And of course they missed all those kicks at goal, one almost right in front. Even then, their forwards damn near won the game right on fulltime but our pack held them out. I said it to a couple of the Lions as we were shaking hands - “you blokes were better than us today” and I think they knew their kickers had let the side down.”

Now 70, another kicker - one draped in black - remains Brown’s lasting memory of the infamous match, the first of a 3-1 series win.

“He was great to play with, old DB. He used to talk all the time, but it was talk that gave you confidence. And when the penalties came he’d say ‘It’s mine, I’m taking it’. He oozed confidence.

"It was as though he knew his kicks were going to go over. He wasn’t bad at talking off the field either!” Brown laughs. “By god he was a beaut!”

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