George North is reflecting on ‘an unbelievable feeling’ after the Saints summer signing scored one of the great individual tries in British and Irish Lions history.
The blockbusting Wales wing, who joins Northampton from Scarlets ahead of next season, struck after 26 minutes of the first Test against Australia at Suncorp Stadium yesterday, effortlessly beating three players - including star Wallabies player Will Genia - during a 60-metre run that showcased his world-class talent.
It proved an unforgettable way to make his Lions Test debut as the tourists edged home 23-21. They will win a first series since 1997 if victory can be secured in Melbourne next Saturday.
“When the ball dropped out of the sky my first thought was just to run,” said North, who fielded Australia full-back Berrick Barnes’ kick before leaving the Wallabies’ defence for dead.
“Luckily, I saw a gap and I just went for it. It opened up for me, and I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt when I crossed that line.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. We won and I got my first (Lions) Test try. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
North, 21, thought he had struck again just five minutes later when he squeezed over in the corner, but the television match official ruled his opposite number Israel Folau, who scored two tries himself, had got a hand underneath the ball.
“I felt it was a try,” North added.
“At the end of the day, the TMO makes his call and you have to live with it. But I certainly felt that I had got there.
“Perhaps one or two things didn’t quite go for us in that regard today, so it makes the win even better.”
Despite North and his fellow Wales wing Alex Cuthbert scoring tries, Australia would have won had substitute Kurtley Beale not failed with two late penalties.
The Lions, though, prevailed, emulating their first Test victory over Australia in Brisbane 12 years ago, and making it eight successive wins in Queensland’s capital.
“It was a remarkable win and a remarkable result,” North said.
“My heart was in my mouth at the end. I think everyone was feeling the same. To be honest, I couldn’t really bring myself to watch the kick.
“I kind of squinted my eyes, but I was squinting them away from the kick. It was one of those moments you just fear in a game.
“It was like deja vu for the Welsh boys in the team because we lost to a last-minute kick to Australia last year. It’s a difficult situation to be in when you know you have basically got a kick to win a match.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to find myself in that situation I can assure you. He (Beale) isn’t their kicker, and it shows the margins at this level.
“It’s always good to get a win, and while it was tough towards the end we are delighted to have got that first win in the series.
“We’ve spoken a lot about momentum these past few weeks, and that could be huge for us now heading into the second Test next week. We need to be more clinical, and we need to get a bit more accuracy in our game.
“I definitely think we can play a lot better than we did.
“It’s a funny one, really. We know we can play better than that, but we are obviously still delighted to get the win. That wasn’t our best performance, and we need to keep pushing for next week.”