Late try secures one-point win over the tourists in Melbourne – Plus match's Up and Down performers
Australia turn the tables on British & Irish Lions
Australia 16-15 Lions
Australia Try: Ashley-Cooper Con: Leali'ifano Pens: Leali'ifano 3
Lions Pens: Halfpenny 5
Brian O'Driscoll could not contain his disappointment after the British and Irish Lions slipped to an agonising 16-15 defeat in the second Test against Australia but warned the Wallabies: "It's not over."
The Lions were on course for a first series triumph since 1997 as they led for most of the match in Melbourne and had a chance to snatch the win with a 50-metre penalty with the last act of the game.
However, like Australia's Kurtley Beale did last weekend as the Lions snatched a dramatic 23-21 win in Brisbane, Leigh Halfpenny could not convert and the home side were able to celebrate a series-tying victory to set up a grandstand finale in Sydney next Saturday.
O'Driscoll admitted the Lions were a "bit loose", saying on Sky Sports 1: "Obviously we're very disappointed. We were ahead in the leaderboard, we got six points clear, that's a horrible margin, a converted try and you're behind.
"They battled away and, we were a bit loose with aspects of our game and gave them opportunities to build the platform to get their score."
However, the veteran centre also insisted: "It's very disappointing but it's not over.
"We've got one massive week next week, both from a mental point of view and a physical point of view to get ourselves right for Saturday in Sydney.
"We knew it was never going to come easy and they made it tough on us."
Of next weekend's decider, the Irishman added: "It's huge, the momentum from this game is with them but we won't let that phase us, we'll dig deep.
"We were able to beat them once and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do it again if we can get our game right."
UPS AND DOWN
Christian Leali’ifano (Australia)
Zero to hero in seven days. Australia might have had this series sewn up already had Leali’ifano not run into Jonathan Davies’ knee 37 seconds in to his debut. They had 14 missed points in the first Test. Their kicker was flawless this time, even under intense pressure.
James Horwill (Australia)
Maybe he should not have been playing following his alleged stamp in Brisbane. Reprieved by the commission, he was a key player in the second act of this epic, most notably with his courageous call to take a scrum instead of kick for goal with nine minutes left.
Lions Test series
Australia will be happy to fight another day. The Lions will be devastated they haven’t settled it. The neutral? Can there possibly be such a thing? Whatever colours you wear, there can be few more appealing spectacles for a rugby union fan than a Lions series decider.
Mako Vunipola (Lions)
For much of the first half, the Lions’ efforts seemed to be floundering because of one person: their loosehead prop. He was a liability at the scrum and exacerbated the fact when he knocked on in open play to stunt a Lions attack. He showed impressive strength of character to claw it back.
James O’Connor (Australia)
It is difficult to know who to blame for the Wallabies’ lack of navigation from No 10 – the man wearing the shirt or the coach who insists on playing a world-class winger there. A variety of errors at crucial times were clues to the fact O’Connor is out of sync at outside half.
Leigh Halfpenny (Lions)
The Cardiff full-back had been immaculate on tour so far. He had missed just two kicks from 27 before this Test. The two out of seven that he missed this time around, each of which was on line but fell short, cost the Lions the Test. How harsh can sport be sometimes?
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