Boot on the other foot for Lions

Sat, 29 Jun 2013 15:05
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Having benefitted from a missed kick last week, the British and Irish Lions saw the other side of that situation in Melbourne.

Having benefitted from a missed kick last week, the British and Irish Lions saw the other side of that situation in Melbourne.

Last week it was Australia's pain, this time it was the British and Irish Lions' turn as Leigh Halfpenny missed a long-range kick and chance to win the tourists' first series for 16 years against the Wallabies.

Superboot Halfpenny, who had missed only three kicks in his previous 35 goal shots on tour, had a penalty from halfway to claim the series for the Lions after the 80th minute only for the attempt to fall just short.

The previous week Kurtley Beale had a kick at the death to win the first Brisbane Test for Australia only to slip on his run up and miss the penalty shot.

The Lions were philosophical about Halfpenny's inability to land the difficult kick for victory.

"I've seen him kick them from there before. He just didn't strike that one well enough. Just a chance to be a hero in that moment," Lions coach Warren Gatland said.

"He's obviously disappointed with himself, but he still kicked incredibly well and has had one that hit the crossbar in the first half and that's the difference between the two sides and he had a 55-metre (angled) kick at the end to win it.

"He's such a professional. He realises the significance of that kick at the end and he's just disappointed he missed."

Captain Sam Warburton was sympathetic with his despairing Welsh teammate after Halfpenny finished with five penalties from seven attempts.

"I've seen Leigh kick them before so I think it was a good decision to go for the three points. In training he'll bang them over but he just didn't connect," Warburton said.

"He can't blame himself, it was an extremely difficult kick. Come Monday morning he'll be fine, he'll be back kicking with Jenks (goalkicking coach Neil Jenkins) and he'll be as good as gold.

"It was the right decision, he had to go for it because it was a realistic opportunity to win the Test series and if I was on the pitch I would have looked at Leigh straight away and told him to go for it."

Warburton came off 13 minutes from the end with an injured hamstring and is unsure if he will be able to play next week in Sydney.

"I've got a sore hamstring. I'm not sure, I haven't done it before.This is a new injury, so I'm not too sure to be honest."

Warburton said the team physios will make an assessment on him over the next 48 hours.

But whether he plays or not, Warburton said the engrossing Test series was poised to be decided in another cliffhanger next week.

"It's going to go down to the wire in the third Test. That's what happens when you play a world-class side like Australia," he said.

"We obviously didn't finish the way we wanted but we've got every chance. We're in the same situation now that we were this morning - we've got a Test series up for grabs."

"It's not doom-and-gloom at all. Very positive from tomorrow morning onwards.

"Whatever happens, I always expect the Aussies to keep going until the 81st minute.

"Going into extra time, they'll always keep pressing, That's the one thing I've learnt the hard way with Wales and it'll be the same next week."

AFP

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