British and Irish Lions take Test Series
British and Irish Lions 41 Australia 16
THE British and Irish Lions crushed Australia in the third and final Test game at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday, July 6 to claim their first series win in 16 years.
Of course, up to this final clash of the series, the huge talking point was the exclusion of talismanic Irish back Brian O’Driscoll ahead of last Saturday’s game. Not only was O’Driscoll cut from the starting 15, but coach Warren Gatland also chose to exclude him from the complete squad.
It was a devastating blow to O’Driscoll, with this likely to have been his final outing in a Lions jersey. However, this controversial moment was overlooked as Gatland’s side destroying the Wallabies to record a comprehensive 41-16 victory.
Before the final game of this series, the teams were even – the Lions taking the first Test honours on June 22, but Australia annexed revenge on their opponents by winning the second Test game on June 29. Tensions were high for all concerned, with many predicting that Gatland’s team formation would not be strong enough for Australia.
How wrong those critics were. The Lions team were phenomenal in all areas of play, with their scrums simply unbeatable. Tries from Alex Corbisiero, Jonathan Sexton, George North and Jamie Roberts proved to be too much for the Aussies, with flawless Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny notching up 21 points in total.
Halfpenny finished the Test series with a whopping 49 points, smashing the previous record of 41 points, and deservedly awarded the Player of the Series.
Gatland named 10 Welsh players in the starting line-up, with many Irish fans remarking this was unfair – however, the final result speaks volumes. The Lions were sensational at times, with Australia simply unable to cope with the constant pressure and attack to their defensive line.
The Aussies trailed 19-3 at half-time thanks to Corbisiero’s try, as well as the aforementioned Halfpenny’s accuracy. However, their lead was whittled to down to just three points thanks to sloppy play from the Lions, with James O’Connor capitalising on Sexton’s mistake.
Despite this set-back, the Lions powered on and ran out deserving and comforting winners, and can now look forward to their next Test series in 2017 against the mighty New Zealand.
Australia: Beale, Folau, Ashley-Cooper, Lealiifano, Tomane, O’Connor, Genia, Robinson, Moore, Alexander, Douglas, Horwill, Mowen, Smith, Palu.
Replacements: Faingaa, Slipper, Kepu, Simmons, McCalman, Hooper, Phipps, Mogg.
British & Irish Lions: Halfpenny, Bowe, Davies, Roberts, North, Sexton, Phillips, Corbisiero, Hibbard, A. Jones, A. Jones, Parling, Lydiate, O’Brien, Faletau.
Replacements: T. Youngs, Vunipola, Cole, Gray, Tipuric, Murray, Farrell, Tuilagi.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Photos credited to walesonline.co.uk, thescore.ie, telegraph.co.uk, abc.net.au