It was the British & Irish Lions’ turn to finish on the wrong side of a tight result in Melbourne as Adam Ashley-Cooper’s late converted try helped Australia level the Test series at one-all. Some of the players involved gave their reaction afterwards.
JONATHAN SEXTON: It (the last kick) was a tough ask for Leigh (Halfpenny) to hit that. It was all of 50 metres or so, so it was an extremely difficult kick. Also, it was the last kick of the game and with everything that was riding on it he had to get it right.
It’s small margins but you can’t look at one man. There was plenty wrong with our performance as a team. It didn’t come down to one kick – we need to examine how we played.
We probably felt he could get the kick, and Leigh felt he could too. We’ve seen him knock them over from that kind of distance before, but it’s right on his range. It was a very tough kick, and you have to also remember how tired he must have been right at the death.
We are all pretty devastated because we know just how close we came. It’s a tough one to take but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we didn’t deserve to win.
We were 1-0 up and we should have gone 2-0 up, and we didn’t. At times it felt we were wishing the game to finish, rather than going out and going after it. That’s how I felt, anyway.
We knew it was small margins last week, and it was the same this week. It comes down to taking your chances. We had chances to score tries – tries win games – and they took their chance at the end.
BRIAN O’DRISCOLL: We’re very disappointed but it’s not over. Now it’s set up for one massive game next weekend and it’s going to be a massive challenge from us both from a mental and physical point of view to be right for Sydney.
We knew Australia were never going to make it easy for us and they’ve made it tough for us for sure. We’re very disappointed because we didn’t feel in control of the game.
We were ahead at the break and managed to get six points clear (15-9), which is a horrible margin because one converted try and you’re behind. We were too loose and gave them opportunities to build a platform from which to get the score.
It’s a huge challenge (this third Test) and the momentum from this game is now with them. But we won’t let that phase us, we have to dig deep into our inner belief that if we were good enough to beat them once, there’s no reason we can’t do it again if we get our game right.
We were loose and gave them counter-attacking options. We just weren’t able to close it out and didn’t build phases. We spoke before the game that we still had a lot more to show and I still don’t think we have shown a lot.
DAN LYDIATE: It’s just one of those things and I’m sure the next time Leigh is in that position he’ll slot it. I’d back him every time. Watching that guy train, he trains like a demon and is always doing his extras.
That’s the thing with Leigh, he’s a perfectionist and unless he kicks 100% then he’s never happy. Everyone is going to miss a kick every now and again and (Saturday) was the day.
No one is blaming him for missing that kick – it’s awesome to have him in the team. If we get a penalty that far out, the bet’s on that he’s probably going to slot it over which is brilliant for us.
Obviously you never like to lose your captain but with Tom Croft coming on, he’s a quality player. We’re not lacking in depth in quality in the back row.
It’s a massive week coming up and we’re lucky, we’ve got another chance this week. It’s just one last effort – we’ve got to go out all guns blazing. It’s one-all so it’s just like a one-off Test match now.
It’s going to be a massive game but we’ve got to go out there and leave it all on the pitch and make sure there’s nothing left in the tank come 80 minutes next Saturday.
GEOFF PARLING: It’s going to take the whole squad to pull together. These things are hard to take and we feel devastated, but we feel like we have another opportunity next Saturday. It’s all part of this tour and being professional.
For a lot of us in there it was the biggest game of our careers to date, and to come so close to winning the series it’s more than hard to take. But the series is still there for the taking. We have to make amends.
Sam (Warburton) is an outstanding player. If he isn’t available, then there are other very good guys who have been champing at the bit to try to get their chance.
We have one more chance, one more crack. For the majority of players it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, unless you are Brian O’Driscoll and you go four times. We have to get on with it and have a good crack at it.
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