Wednesday 4 March 2015

Lions get out of jail in Brisbane classic

Australia 21 British and Irish Lions 23

Published 22/06/2013 | 13:19

Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies and Ben Youngs celebrate victory
Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies and Ben Youngs celebrate victory
Jonathon Sexton and Jonathan Davies of the Lions celebrate victory after the First Test
Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton of the British & Irish Lions celebrate
Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies slips over while kicking for goal during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium
Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies slips over while kicking for goal during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium
British and Irish Lions' Alex Cuthbert (left) celebrates after the final whistle with Jonathan Davies (centre) and Dan Lydiate (right)
British and Irish Lions' Brian O'Driscoll (left) celebrates after the final whistle with Jonathan Davies (right)
Australia Wallabies' James O'Driscoll (front) and Nick Phipps react after losing
Australia Wallabies' Will Genia reacts after losing
British and Irish Lions' fans celebrate after the final whistle

THE Lions somehow fashioned victory in most unlikely circumstances in Brisbane tonight to take a crucial one game lead in the three game Test series.

Their performance scarcely deserved the victory for it was pock-marked by error and they sought without success to find a smooth and regular rhythm in the play.

This was shown most effectively in the 70th minute when Sexton, with a gloriously high kick, brought play right into the Australian 22 where a Lions scrum looked likely to yield a precious dividend with the score so tight at 21-23 for the Lions.

The Lions somehow contrived to lose control of the scrum and when the ball spun loose it was Genia who kicked it up to effect the clearance.

British & Irish Lions supporters from Limerick and Tipperary in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters from Limerick and Tipperary in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British and Irish Lions' Alex Cuthbert (left) celebrates after the final whistle with Jonathan Davies (centre) and Dan Lydiate (right)
British and Irish Lions' Brian O'Driscoll (left) celebrates after the final whistle with Jonathan Davies (right)
Australia Wallabies' James O'Driscoll (front) and Nick Phipps react after losing
Australia Wallabies' Will Genia reacts after losing
British and Irish Lions' fans celebrate after the final whistle
Jonathon Sexton and Jonathan Davies of the Lions celebrate victory after the First Test
Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies slips over while kicking for goal during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium
Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies slips over while kicking for goal during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium
Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton of the British & Irish Lions celebrate
Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies and Ben Youngs celebrate victory
James Noonan, from Knocklong, Co. Limerick, Ciara Murphy, from Hospital, Co. Limerick, and Kevin Walsh, from Mahon, Cork, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters Maria and Malcolm Grace, from Corbally, Limerick, in Brisbane ahead of the game. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
British & Irish Lions players, from left, Geoff Parling, Jonathan Sexton, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Dan Lydiate during the Australian National Anthem. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
British & Irish Lions supporters, from left, Declan Brennan, from Loughboy, Co. Kilkenny, Alan Prendergast, from Swords, Dublin, and Conor Berney, from Sandymount, Dublin, in Brisbane ahead of the game. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
22 June 2013; British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland. British & Irish Lions Tour 2013, 1st Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
British and Irish Lions' George North (top) is tackled by Australia's James O'Connor during the First Test match
British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton (holding the ball) is tackled by Australia's Ben Alexander during their rugby union test match
British and Irish Lions' Jonny Sexton (R) is tackled by Australia Wallabies' James Horwill during their rugby union test match at Suncorp Stadium
British & Irish Lions supporters Dermot McNamara, from Limerick City, left, and Johnny Holmes, from Foxrock, Dublin, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
General view of the Tom Richards Cup before the First Test match at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
British & Irish Lions supporters David Morrissey, from Cork City, left, and James Hassell, from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporter Eoin O'Meara, from Malahide, Dublin, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British and Irish Lions' George North scores a try against the Australia Wallabies during their rugby union test match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane
British and Irish Lions' Alex Cuthbert holds off Australia's James O'Connor
British and Irish Lions' George North runs is tackled by Australia's Wycliff Palu (left) and Michael Hooper (second left) during the First Test match at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
British & Irish Lions supporters Gavin O'Sullivan, left, and Kevin Daly, from Ennis, Co. Clare, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters Aidan McDermott-Rowe, from Castleknock, Dublin, left, with Eoin O'Meara and Rob Shannon, right, both from Malahide, Dublin, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters Cathy Ahern, from Killeedy, Co. Limerick, left, and Natalie O'Gorman, from Bansha, Co. Tipperary, right, with Colin McCartney, from Belfast, Co. Antrim, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters Cathy Ahern, from Killeedy, Co. Limerick, left, and Natalie O'Gorman, from Bansha, Co. Tipperary, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
British & Irish Lions supporters Laura O'Gorman, from Bansha, Co. Tipperary, left, and Rosie Allen, from Knocklong, Co. Limerick, in Brisbane ahead of the game.
A Wallabies supporter in Brisbane ahead of the game.
Australia's Christian Lealiifano is stretchered from the field during their rugby union test match against the British and Irish Lions

This led to a period of severe pressure and the Lions’ seeming inability to either stay on their feet at the breakdown or their continued insistence in joining from the side presented Kurtley Beale with two kicks for personal glory and the victory.

His first was an ugly attempt that was short and to the left of the posts. Astonishingly he was afforded a second go four minutes later but his left leg slipped in the cut up surface just as his right boot made contact with the ball.

The result was right and wide. The final whistle sounded almost immediately to spark wild celebrations among the Lions’ players.

The Lions will savour this victory for they are now in control of the Series as the circus that is the 2013 Lions Tour moves to Melbourne. They will do so knowing that they got out of jail in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and that a marked improvement will be needed if they are to survive the second Act.

Australia will take solace from their narrow miss, especially after losing so many influential players during the contest.

They will also take confidence from the realisation that whenever the game opened up they looked the more dangerous side, as evidenced by their opening try when scrum-half Will Genia showed a speed of thought and movement that ripped the heart out of the Lions’ defence.

He showed a remarkable burst of speed and an even sharper intellect when he broke quickly after Brian O’Driscoll was pinged at the breakdown for the third consecutive time. Genia raced past a helpless and clueless Mike Phillips and made 50 metres.

He then picked out Israel Folau for the simplest of run-ins as he touched down under the posts to make the extras a formality.

As expected the Lions roared back into the contest. First Leigh Halfpenny opened their account with a penalty before George North exploded into the Test Series with a run that burned off three defenders and scrum-half Genia.

It was a try to savour from the huge winger but there was a sour note to it as he clearly “did a Delon Armitage” by pointing his finger at Genia as he crossed the line. There was no need for the gesture and it did him and the jersey a dis-service.

Six minutes from the break the prodigious talent of Israel Folau showedjust how explosive he is when he burst through Sexton and Leigh Halfpenny before dancing around Alex Corbisiero for a glorious individual try.

If the momentum was with Australia at the interval the Lions certainly snatched it back almost immediately after the restart when Alex Cuthbert powered through four would-be tacklers after a great decoy run from Brian O’Driscoll drew cover away momentarily.

The Lions were in control at this juncture but the Wallabies soon wrestled control back through some dominant play by their back who clearly gained an upperhand in the scrum.

Halfpenny and Kurtley Beale swapped penalties to leave just two between them when Beale was given two chances to snatch victory and personal glory. Mercifully for the Lions he missed twice to hand the advantage to the tourists…just but they will know that they left at least 14 points behind them on the night.

Surely they won’t be as careless next week.

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