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Bennett try wins ‘Greatest Ever Wales Try’ competition

Bennett try wins ‘Greatest Ever Wales Try’ competition

There was only one winner after the votes were counted in the final of the Greatest Ever Welsh Try as Phil Bennett’s effort in the 1977 Championship came out on top.

Bennett’s marvellous score against Scotland at Murrayfield went head-to-head with Scott Gibbs’s try against England at Wembley in 1999 for the prestigious honour of being crowned Wales’ best.

And after Bennett’s try triumphed in every contest during the four rounds of the competition to find the best of 16 great Welsh tries, it took the top prize ahead of Gibbs’s own iconic score.

The Llanelli outside half featured twice in a try that began at a breakdown in the Welsh 22 and ended up with what Bill McLaren described in commentary as “the try of the Championship”.

Not only did Bennett’s side-stepping delight wow those in attendance at Murrayfield, it was also the try that clinched another Triple Crown for Wales as they triumphed 18-9.

Speaking to the official Welsh Rugby Union site, Bennett said: “I didn’t score that many tries for Wales. I got one against Ireland at Lansdowne Road and then two against France in 1978 when we won the Grand Slam, but they were both five yarders.

“So, the try against Scotland is the one that gets talked about the most when I meet people. It clinched the Triple Crown and in those days the Triple Crown was more of a respected achievement than perhaps it is today.

“Wales were going through some tough times economically back then. Factories and mines were closing and people were losing their jobs.

“Yet, the commitment to watching Wales play was still incredible. I can remember on Saturday morning in Edinburgh, standing on a balcony in our team hotel and looking out along the length of Princes Street and seeing a sea of supporters, dressed in red shirts or scarves, or rosettes.

“I realised how much effort they had gone through and I thought, ‘we can’t let these people down’.

The try itself is still memorable. Andy Irvine kicked the ball away to JPR and I thought, ‘he’s made a mistake there.’

“Gerald Davies produced some magical sidesteps, beat three or four men, and put me into a bit of space. I had David Burcher outside, found him, and he floated a beautiful high pass back inside to Steve Fenwick.

“Steve took man and ball, but, incredibly, got the ball away back to me. I had two guys in front of me and managed to beat them both with a step.

“One of them was the great Ian ‘Mighty Mouse’ McLauchlan. He was a hard man, was Mouse, who loved scrummaging and I was shocked to see him back near his own 22 trying to cover.

“Thankfully, they bought the dummy and I was away to the posts. People asked whether it was a pose with the ball under my chin, but it truly wasn’t. I was knackered – and relieved.”

Bennett, who finished the 1977 Championship as the top points scorer, had already seen off tries from Allan Bateman, Shane Williams and Justin Tipuric before winning the final with 60 per cent of the votes cast.

It’s not the first time the try has been crowned the best, with Bennett’s score also winning the BBC Wales vote for the best Wales try in the Five or Six Nations back in 2007.