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May 28 down the years
Fitzgerald's Lions secure perfect preparation
British and Irish Lions skipper Ciaran Fitzgerald in action, May 14, 1983
Ciaran Fitzgerald led his Lions to victory on this day in 1983 © Getty Images

Ciaran Fitzgerald led his British & Irish Lions to a 25-18 win against Manawatu at Palmerston North in the last Saturday match before the Test series against the All Blacks began.

It was the only time in history the Lions played Manawatu, when the north islanders were in their pomp. The Lions won 25-18 but it was an acrimonious battle as the Lions complained of being kicked, trampled on and hit off-the-ball.

Ciaran Fitzgerald and Iain Paxton had head wounds, and Graham Price had stud marks on his back. The match was played in strong winds and Manawatu scored first when Matene Love kicked a dropped goal and Finlay also did later in the half. Olly Campbell also dropped a goal for the Lions and at half-time the home side were leading 9-3.

The Lions turned on the style in the second-half when they scored three tries to Manawatu's one. Trevor Ringland got two and Iain Paxton one for the visitors but Manawatu fullback, Mark Finlay, performed the rare feat of scoring in all four ways - try, conversion, penalty and drop goal.

An Irish XV, selected from the party due to tour America, was beaten 31-30 by the Barbarians in a ding-dong battle at Lansdowne Road. The Baa-Baas scored five brilliant tries to Ireland's four, two of them in the last quarter by South Africa full-back Stefan Terblanche. Ireland suffered injuries during the game to Brian O'Driscoll, Jeremy Davidson, Girvan Dempsey and Geordan Murphy.

Guy Easterby and Justin Bishop answered tries from James Dalton and Kenny Logan to put Ireland 12-10 ahead before a David Humphries penalty and a Shane Horgan try gave the home side a 20-10 half-time lead. Ireland maintained that 10-point lead until the 65th minute when Terblanche broke through the cover for the first of two late tries. Humphries had a chance to give Ireland victory with an injury-time penalty but missed the target.

France cut loose in their World Cup pool match in Wellington, New Zealand, running in nine tries in their 55-12 defeat of Romania. The French went on to lose the final 29-9 to the All Blacks.

Still reeling after their reverse in the Test the previous weekend, England were walloped 20-5 during their tour of New Zealand by an outstanding Hawke's Bay side. A young Ian MacRae was the stand-out player for the hosts, scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Andy Irvine was on song for the Lions, scoring a try, a conversion and two penalty goals in their 21-13 win against Taranaki.

The inaugural IRB Sevens Series reached its climax in Paris where New Zealand beat South Africa in the Final to take the title with 186 tournament points. Fiji were the runners-up, six points behind the winners.

Saracens are crowned English champions for the first time as they defeat Leicester Tigers 22-18 at Twickenham in the Aviva Premiership Final. South African hooker Schalk Brits and young English fly-half Owen Farrell are the architects of the victory as Brits sets up the only try of the game for winger James Short during a man of the match display and Farrell kicks 17 points in a nerveless performance. Saracens's unremitting defence is also central to their triumph as they repell 32 phases of Tigers' attacks in the dying moments of the game.

Across the Irish Sea, meanwhile, Munster defeated Leinster 19-9 in the RaboDirect PRO12 Grand Final at Thomond Park. Doug Howlett and Keith Earls both crossed for the victors, who also forced a late penalty try as they denied their provincial rivals a league and Heineken Cup double. Leinster, just seven days on from being crowned champions of Europe after a stunning come-from-behind win over Northampton Saints, managed just three penalties from Jonathan Sexton.

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