Relieved Gatland reveals that Tommy Bowe will be fit for second test
Warren Gatland voiced his relief after Australia's Kurtley Beale missed a penalty with the final kick of the game as the British and Irish Lions opened the Test series with victory in Brisbane.
Full-back Beale slipped during his run up and the ball fell short, enabling the tourists to finish 23-21 winners in a nerve-jangling contest at Suncorp Stadium.
As Wales coach, Gatland - who revealed Tommy Bowe and Manu Tuilagi will be fit for the second Test in Melbourne next Saturday - has seen his side concede last-gasp defeats to the Wallabies and he feared a similar outcome today.
"My first reaction was 'this isn't going to happen again'. It's happened before in the last couple of minutes - but they only kick those goals against Wales. Then my reaction was relief," he said.
"Tommy Bowe is fit and available, he trained today and did contact."
George North's stunning 26th-minute solo try helped the Lions to a gripping triumph and Gatland insisted the tourists were worthy winners at a ground perceived to be a Wallaby stronghold.
"We tried to play a bit of rugby, probably too much in the first half. We knew it was going to be tight, there's not a lot of difference between the two sides," he said.
"Like a sparring match the teams were finding out a bit about each other in the first Test.
"Both teams will get better after that hit out. It wasn't the prettiest performance, but it was the victory we deserved."
Gatland was unimpressed by the performance of referee Chris Pollock, who awarded Australia two late penalties, both of which were missed by the otherwise outstanding Beale.
"There were a few decisions that didn't go our way, but we'll take that on the chin," Gatland said.
"It was tough at the breakdown. He's penalised Mako Vunipola for coming in at the side when he's made the tackle.
"He spoke to Brian O'Driscoll early in the match after penalising him when he was clearly on his feet.
"Brian said to me he was afraid to compete at the breakdown after that because he was afraid of there being a yellow card situation.
"We created some stuff but the referee said advantage over when we were in goalkicking range.
"There were a few chances we missed out on. It's a huge step up for referees to come in from provincial to Test rugby in terms of intensity."
North, who passed a fitness test on a hamstring injury on Wednesday, ensured his name will forever be associated with the Lions after scoring one of the great tries in the tourists' history.
Gathering a poor kick from Berrick Barnes, the 21-year-old Wales wing set off on a 60-metre run that swept him past Pat McCabe, O'Connor, Barnes and Genia and into the left corner.
On full display was his devastating mix of power and elusive footwork and the try scored on what has been billed as the biggest Test match of the year will rocket him to rugby stardom. He was also denied a second try by the TMO.
Another star was born in the Wallabies' two-try wing Israel Folau, a former rugby league international who was playing Australian rules football 12 months ago.
"George North still thinks he scored that try that was ruled. He said he clearly had it down. We had two quality wingers up against each other out there," Gatland said.
"The guy who does a bit of speed work with us - a guy called Frans Bosch - said to me a couple of years ago that he had worked with two people who he thinks are incredibly special athletes - Israel Folau and George North. They're exceptional talents."
Jubilant Lions captain Sam Warburton paid tribute to North, who has emerged as the tour's outstanding player alongside points machine Leigh Halfpenny.
"I've always thought that George is an immense athlete and is the best athlete I've seen," Warburton said.
"When he gets his hands on the ball he's extremely difficult to defend against.
"We're fortunate that we have a lot of wingers with exceptional talent.
George is an outstanding player and I was delighted when he was announced fit."
Warburton, the Wales captain, relived the moment Beale's penalty failed to reach the uprights and admitted he was inspired by the noise generated by the 20,000 Lions fans in the 54,499 sell-out at Suncorp Stadium.
"It took a while to sink in because I thought I was in the same situation as last year with Wales," he said.
"It's happened way too many times before, but when a kick is taken out of your control all you can do is watch.
"It was one of the worst minutes of my life and I thought it was going over.
"I'm absolutely delighted with the win, it's a great start. We celebrated a bit after but we know it's only half the job done. It's great for momentum that we've won the first game.
"The crowd were brilliant - I could hear them from my hotel today. From a players' point of view it's massive and really picks you up when you're tired.
"When you're blowing in a game and they suddenly find their voice, it's a massive lift for the team.
"The fans have been immense. That was one part of the tour I was looking forward to and they haven't disappointed me."
Australia cancelled their 2300BST press conference scheduled for later today to take stock of a startling succession of injuries that decimated their backline.
Christian Leali'ifano, Berrick Barnes and Pat McCabe were stretchered off, while Digby Ioane and Adam Ashley-Cooper played through the pain barrier to stay on the pitch.
The Wallabies now face a race against time to patch up as many of their players as possible before Saturday's second Test in Melbourne.
Coach Robbie Deans insisted he was unable to give an update on any of the injured players.
"That was very frustrating. I'm proud of the effort. It was a courageous performance to stack up alongside any," Deans said.
"To give themselves a chance of winning the game was a good effort, but obviously we didn't so now we go to Melbourne having to win.
"We'll assemble a team, go to work and put out a team next Saturday.
"There appears that there will be some need for some changes to the team, but I haven't had the feedback yet.
"Let's hope it's not as grave as appeared in the first instance. That was an epic struggle out there and either side could have won."
Australia captain James Horwill refused to blame Beale for the defeat.
"No one's blaming anyone, we did well to get ourselves into that situation at the end," he said.
"I spoke to Kurtley and said, 'Look mate, don't worry about it. These things happen and you just have to get on with it. Everyone in the team still loves you'."