Saturday, 29 June 2013

Australia 16 v British & Irish Lions 15

Another desperately close and nail-biting Test today in Melbourne. This time it was the Lions turn to fail with a last ditch penalty although Leigh Halfpenny wasn't expected to land it from 53m out.

It was a fascinating, forward dominated game in which power in the scrum swung both ways as each side took turns to exploit weaknesses in their opponents game or to dominate where they were strong. The Lions were on top in the loose and their early rolling maul and drives caused panic in the Aussie ranks. The line-out wasn't functioning too well for the Lions, especially at the tail and the scrummaging from both sides was all over the place. Mako Vunipola was targeted in the first-half and conceded several penalties in succession before he decided to avoid the advances of his counterpart and instead turn his power inside. He was fortunate not to be replaced at the break and got away with angled scrummaging a couple of times before being penalised in the second-half for the same thing.

The backs of both sides didn't get much to play with and when they did, finding an overlap proved elusive. Will Genia threatened with every touch but he had a mis-firing Kurtley Beale alongside him and they struggled to bring Israel Folau into the game enough although he made distance with every play he got. 

At 15-9 to the Lions, all of the points had come from the boot before the Aussies finally got the reward their possession deserved when Ashley-Cooper crashed over. 

George North's personal battle with Israel Folau has been simmering but George took a major lead in one inspiring moment towards the end when Israel Folau attempted to tackle him and was put up over North's shoulder and carried five yards before being brought down with a thump. It was passionate stuff and it sets the decider up perfectly in Sydney next Saturday. 

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