British & Irish Lions
Wallabies strike back in Melbourne
Sat, 29 Jun 2013 11:52
A decider in Sydney next weekend
The Wallabies scored the only try of the match to snatch a dramatic 16-15 victory over the British and Irish Lions and level the series.
Adam Ashley-Cooper burst over for the crucial five-pointer with five minutes left to play, and the conversion from Christian Lealiffano saw the Australians sneak past a gritty Lions team.
The Wallabies conceded a penalty to give the Lions another crack but Leigh Halfpenny, who had only missed one kick in his previous six attempts, left it just short to Australia's jubilation, sending the epic series into a decider in Sydney next weekend.
Halfpenny kicked five penalty goals from seven attempts, while the Wallabies got home on the back of Ashley-Cooper's try and Lealiifano's conversion and three penalties.
The Lions must now regroup from their bitter disappointment of not finishing off the Wallabies in Melbourne to win their first series since 1997.
They put the Wallabies under immediate pressure with dominant forward play and got an early long-range penalty but Halfpenny's attempt hit the crossbar and bounced back into the field of play.
But he made no mistake in the 10th minute to give the Lions the early lead.
The Australians put the Lions scrum under pressure and after several re-sets, Mako Vunipola was penalised for collapsing the scrum, giving Lealiifano an easy penalty conversion after 16 minutes.
Vunipola was then penalised again for collapsing the scrum, giving Lealiifano his second penalty goal to put the Wallabies in front.
Vunipola lost the ball as the Lions fans groaned, but Halfpenny levelled the scores at 6-6 before Vunipola redeemed himself by forcing Ben Alexander to concede a penalty.
Halfpenny put it over to retrieve the lead for the Lions.
The England prop was in the thick of the action and he appeared to elbow Adam Ashley-Cooper off the ball which could have further ramifications after the match.
Ashley-Cooper crashed to the ground but resumed after treatment as the Wallabies hit back five minutes before half-time when Dan Lydiate was penalised for offside, giving Lealiifano his third penalty.
But right on half-time Ben Mowen was penalised in the ruck giving Halfpenny his fourth penalty and a 12-9 lead.
The Wallabies conceded their fifth penalty while on attack as the home side dominated territory early in the second half.
The immensely strong George North carried Israel Folau on his back only to be brought to ground on his head in a dramatic moment as the Lions power began to take its toll.
Replacement prop James Slipper was penalised as the Lions scrum drove through for Halfpenny to kick a 48-metre penalty and push the Lions out to a six-point lead with 18 minutes left.
The Lions lost their inspirational skipper Sam Warburton with a leg injury with 13 minutes left making way for Sean O'Brien as the Wallabies fumbled another ball inside the tourists' half.
The Lions won a line-out on the Wallabies' throw as yet another mistake cost the Australians a chance to keep the pressure on.
But the breakthrough came after more Australian pressure and O'Connor, enjoying a better match at flyhalf this week, cleverly put Ashley-Cooper spearing through on the fringe for the only try of the Test.
Lealiifano nervelessly guided the conversion over to a massive roar from the home side.
Man of the match: In a match where the defensive systems came out on top the playmaking skills of Will Genia were key to getting the Wallabies over the gainline with the match on the line.
Moment of the match: You cannot look past the only try of the match from Adam Ashley-Cooper which saw the Wallabies snatch victory after trailing for most of the match.
Villain of the match: There were none.
Pens: Lealiifano 3
For the British and Irish Lions:
Pens: Halfpenny 5
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 James Horwill, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Jesse Mogg.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Makovina Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Alex Cuthbert.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Romain Poite (France)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
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