Wednesday 24 January 2018

Brian Jaffray: Agony, ecstasy and a golden moment from North

TV verdict

TV gold on Australia's Gold Coast. It was the sporting moment of the year and one of the greatest rugby sporting moments you're ever likely to see. George North's mad 60-metre dash is already part of Lions folklore. It's one of those 'remember where you were' moments.

Over and over again Sky showed it. From every conceivable angle. Full speed, slow speed and super slow speed. Oh, and don't forget all in HD, 3D and Dolby surround sound. Depending on your package, that is!

It got better all the time. A magic moment, a magic try but tainted ever so slightly by Georgie Boy's showboating in the face of Will Genia. No need for that George, you're bigger than that.

Miles Harrison up in the commentary box struggled to contain himself.

"George North, through the first tackle. They try to tap him but North goes on the outside. North for the corner. He's been UNLEASHED," he roared out at us from the far side of the world.

What about the showboating Miles? Was your view blocked by any chance?

"He's Lomuesque in stature," affirmed his co-commentator Stuart Barnes also silent on the goading of the Aussie scrum-half. They don't half hype up their heroes on Sky.

The first Test had it all and, for once, lived up to all the pre-match billing. Crazy refereeing, other brilliant tries from Alex Cuthbert and Aussie rugby league convert Israel Folau, horrible injuries, Kurtley Beale's penalty mishap in the dying seconds and a Lions victory.

The tone for the day had been set much earlier in the morning by Rory McIlroy of all folk in Sky's build-up package. You've got to love 'Wee Mac's' straight talkin' no-nonsense style. Four countries, one theme... kick butt!

Staring down the camera, and with that look only he can give, his pre-recorded message to Gatty's men was blunt and to the point. "Go on boys, kick those Aussie a***s."

Sky Sports wheeled out the big guns to rally the troops ahead of the first Test in Brisbane. Rory was in exalted and regal company.

Prince William and Harry, Beefy Botham, Jessica Ennis, Justin Rose, Joe Calzaghe, Chris Hoy and Robbie Keane.

Wills and Harry were a little more subtle with the wishes than Rory as was Keano who gave a big shout out to the Irish lads.

Good man Robbie; he knows where his bread is buttered.

Back up in the stand, Alex Payne – the Tom McGurk of Sky – couldn't contain his excitement. "The Lions bring everything together like nothing else," he bellowed into the camera. Get a grip Alex, it's only a game.

"This emotional rollercoaster is good to go. Hold on tight, even those who have been there, won it and wore the jersey are strapped in for the ride." Good man Alex, whatever you do, don't under-sell the gig.

Eighty plus madcap minutes later it was all over. Lions by a whisker. One down, two to go. The circus now moves on to Melbourne.

The Aussies are waiting in the long grass. Watch out Georgie Boy, the Wallabies have you in their sights. You're box office now.

Irish Independent

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