Wednesday 20 September 2017

Lions fail in Test of nerve

Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

For the second series running in Australia the home team have turned over a half-time deficit in the second Test in Melbourne, having been one down from the first, to make it all square going into the last leg in Sydney on Saturday. The Lions have not won a series since beating the Springboks in 1997, and before a full house in Melbourne's Docklands yesterday, they were five minutes away from bridging that gap.

"It's like a Grand Final now," said a delighted Wallaby captain James Horwill, whose involvement in that game is still an issue, with an appearance tomorrow before a Canadian judicial officer to hear an appeal from the IRB against the decision to reject a citing from the Brisbane Test last weekend.

The Lions are unclear about the availability too of their captain Sam Warburton who was replaced late in the game with a hamstring injury, but at least it seems that prop Mako Vunipola will not be cited for flattening Adam Ashley-Cooper off the ball late in the first half.

The tourists fly up to Noosa in Queensland today to recuperate ahead of Saturday. They had hoped in the planning that this would be a rest taken with the series won, but now they are firmly on the back foot going to the last match.

Although the Lions conceded fewer penalties than Australia, they had to make twice as many tackles with the home team dominating the second half in territory and possession. "The disappointing thing was that in the second half we didn't dominate territory the way we did in the first," Warren Gatland said afterwards.

"Unfortunately, we had a couple of crucial turnovers which allowed them to keep the pressure on us."

The Lions had a chance to overcome the one-point deficit with a last kick of the game from Leigh Halfpenny, which fell short and was booted out of play by man of the match Will Genia.

See Pages 2 and 3

Irish Independent

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