The 1989 Tour to Australia was a first for the Lions as all previous trips down under had included New Zealand in the itinerary. The schedule had also been trimmed further, to just 12 matches, and Australia had been deemed worthy of hosting an entire tour for the first time in exactly 90 years. Another piece of history would also be made in the Test series, as Finlay Calders side became the first Lions to triumph after losing the opening match.
Managed by former Wales captain and coach Clive Rowlands, and coached by Scotlands Ian McGeechan, the Lions also introduced an assistant coach for the first time, with Englands Roger Uttley acting as number two.
The squad was strong with physically powerful players as well as technically adept. From Gavin Hastings at full-back through to the combative Robert Jones at scrum-half and the hard English core of forwards with Brian Moore, Paul Ackford, Mike Teague and Dean Richards. They needed all that power in a Test series of huge physical intensity. In the opener, the Wallaby pack held the upper hand and gave their half-backs the platform to create four tries and produce a huge win by 30-12. The Lions beat ACT 41-25 before the second Test but were criticised for the hardness of their play in completing the comeback from a 21-11 half-time deficit. This was nothing compared to the criticism that came to Calder and Co when they squared the series with a bruising 19-12 win over the Wallabies in Brisbane. The first scrum erupted in a brawl and the Lions came out on top in the fierce battle the game became, late tries from Gavin Hastings and Jeremy Guscott for the Lions eventually made the difference.
Open warfare was predicted for the decider, but an exciting game of rugby happened instead, won by a performance of complete control from the Lions pack, but decided on the scoreboard by Australia wing David Campeses error that gifted a try to his opposite number, Ieuan Evans. The Lions were hanging on as the Wallabies fought to the finish, but when the final whistle blew a 19-18 the Lions had a series win and that after losing the first test.