The British and Irish Lions lose their second of three test matches in a gritty and nerve-shredding game – setting up a series showdown next week.
Australia won the match by 16 points to 15, with the match winning points secured by Australia in the last five minutes of the game.
Following the 23-21 victory in Brisbane last week, hopes were high going into the match that the British and Irish players could snatch victory with one game to spare. The Lions last won a series in 1997, 16 years ago, on a tour of South Africa which the Lions won by two games to one.
The tourists had a chance to put the first points on the board within four minutes, when the Australians were penalised for holding onto the ball. However fullback Leigh Halfpenny’s kick fell just short, bouncing off the bar.
The Lions dominated the breakdown in early play, earning two extra penalties within seven minutes. In a bold call, captain Sam Warburton decided the ball should go into touch close to the Australian try line.
The maul that developed from the line-out heaped further pressure on the Australians, leading to another penalty – which Halfpenny successfully converted.
In the 15th minute it was the Lions’ turn to be penalised, on this occasion for collapsing the scrum. Christian Leali’ifano converted the points for the Wallabies.
The scrum looked like it could be a problem for the Lions, and in the 22nd minute another penalty was awarded to Australia for collapsing. Leali’ifano converted the points.
And it was the scrum again that led to the next penalty, though this time in the Lions’ favour. Halfpenny duly converted.
As the game crossed the half hour mark, a scrappy passage of play ensued, with handling errors on both sides. A Lions scrum from one of these errors led to another scrum penalty being awarded.
Halfpenny converted the points from the same distance as the penalty that he had previously missed.
In a tense and scrappy battle for possession, a further penalty was awarded to the home team for offside. Leali’ifano successfully converted his third penalty from three.
The Lions looked close to scoring as Halfpenny lofted a high ball forward, which was caught by first-test try scorer George North to set up an attacking position. The ball was passed across the backs – and the Australians were forced to concede a penalty in order to prevent the advance.
Halfpenny converted the penalty to put the Lions in front going into half time.
Australia started confidently in the second half, with several attacking passages of play within the first ten minutes. The Lions had to scrap to contain the Australian threat – ultimately leading to Brian O’Driscoll being penalised for hands on the ball.
The Wallabies kicked the ball into touch to set up an attacking position. However, the Lions defended well – and the Australians lost their advantage when they gave a penalty away.
Ferocious tackles flew in as the Australians and the Lions fought for dominance in the middle of the pitch. A tense moment for the Lions came when North, star of the first test match, made a unique attacking move.
North, going nowhere with Australian Falou trying to tackle him, lifted the Wallaby onto his shoulder and ran forward (picture, below). The referee called North over, but determined there was no malicious intent – and North stayed on the pitch.
A surging scrum forward led to the Australians conceding another penalty, and Halfpenny converted – stretching the Lions’ lead to six points.
The Lions now attacked the game with renewed vigour, but as they pressured the Australian 22 another penalty was conceded – and the Wallabies kicked into touch to set up an attacking positions in the Lions’ half.
But the Lions were certainly not safe – with a converted try needed to put the Australians in front. It looked close to coming in the 70th minute – with Australia surging forward and the Lions scrambling to defend, and conceding a penalty.
Australia, with their eyes on the win, opted for a scrum. The ball was spun out to the backs, but was then lost in a thumping tackle on Falou and Johnny Sexton cleared the ball up field – albeit not at a great distance.
Australia restarted with a line-out, and bursts from Hooper and Falou through the Lions line set up the attacking position. Sustained pressure from the Australians finally paid off, with Adam Ashley-Cooper (picture, top) crossing the try line near touch.
Leali’ifano converted the points to put Australia in front.
However, a mistake in their own half set up the Lions for an attacking position from a line out. The Australian defence was too good, however, and the British and Irish team conceded a penalty.
With two minutes remaining the Australians had possession ball in the Lions’ half. However, the Australians slipped up – handing a penalty to the Australians outside of the 80-minute time limit.
The only option was for Halfpenny to kick for the points – and the match. The kick, from the halfway line, was a challenge even for Halfpenny’s boot – and the kick fell short.
The win sets up a tense final series match in Sydney next week.