Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021


45,737 Views 84 Comments

IT ALL CAME down to 80 minutes in Sydney and the Lions were desperate to get the gorilla off their back. 16 years without a series win but the counting stops today!

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

You may need to refresh the page for YouTube videos and other elements to display correctly.

Full-time score at the bottom

Happy Lions Decider Day!

The plan that Warren Gatland drafted out on parchment paper on that old, old wooden ship [called Diversity] will be rolled out of the dressing room, out the tunnel and unleashed against the Aussies. It’s called ‘ball carry the EFF out of it!’

Aussies and Lions are united in Sydney, temporarily at least, in their belief that axed centre Brian O’Driscoll has been wronged by that man, that evil, evil man, Warren Gatland.

Cheers to @lennonjen and the Waltzing O’Driscoll lassies Down Under.

Here’s everyone’s buddy, Tommy Bowe, for you. SPOILER ALERT: “We’ll leave everything out on the pitch,” says Tommy.

YouTube credit: RugbyMedia

“You know you’ve been picked ahead of a guy that epitomises everything about the Lions”

- Jamie Roberts on replacing Brian O’Driscoll in the Lions midfield

The Aussies trying to stack the deck in their favour at [ENTER SPONSOR'S NAME HERE] Stadium:

Surprised Sir Clive doesn’t pop one on himself, the Lions saboteur!

Here are your teams, starting withe the boys in red:

Lions XV to play Australia: L Halfpenny; T Bowe, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; J Sexton, M Phillips; A Crobisiero, R Hibbard, A Jones; AW Jones (c), G Parling; D Lydiate, S O’Brien, T Faletau.

Replacements: T Youngs, M Vunipola, D Cole, R Gray, J Tipuric, C Murray, O Farrell, M Tuilagi.

Just one change in the Wallaby team and it is a return, from four years in the international wilderness and Japan, for George Smith. Funny story about George Smith – a few chums of mine were baiting him for a fight [that they would surely lose] at around 3am on Grafton Street a few years back. The flanker demurred and headed inside the Westbury to bed down for the night. My mates trotted off to Burger King.

George, I wasn’t there to prevent the madness, but you have my apologies regardless.

Australia XV to face Lions: Kurtley Beale; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane; James O’Connor, Will Genia; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander; Kane Douglas, James Horwill (c); Ben Mowen, George Smith, Wycliff Palu.

Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Jesse Mogg.

Just remembered, Phil Waugh was the other lad.

“Welcome to Ireland boys. Fancy a scrap?!”

At the risk of enduring another try-less games for the boys in red, who do you think will score the first Lions try today? Get your predictions in now.

Some stats here from Accenture Rugby, Jonny Sexton has kicked 57% of the ball that has come his way in the Test Series. 22% of all ball he received was passed and he carried 21% of the time.

As for James O’Connor, the Aussies outhalf, he has kicked 30%, passed 30% and carried 40%. Sums up the mentality of the two teams.

Here’s the word from Toronto, typed at 5am by our buddy David Elkin. Enjoy the game David.

A lot of talk about Jamie Roberts’ ability to “get over the gainline” but this is fully reliant on the forwards actually providing good ball for the first time in the tests. O’Brien and Faletau could help in this regard, and if they get front foot ball, Roberts will indeed be a weapon, and could unleash Bowe and North.

My gut reaction is a narrow win for Australia, but with Poite refereeing and the Lions’ pack looking strong, we could strangle a win out of it through Halfpenny. The only thing stopping me calling it for The Lions is my innate sporting pessimism. Luckily, that has never proved a factor in the past to the actual result of major sporting events.

10 minutes from kick-off. Get your first Lions tryscorer predictions in.

Here’s a snippet of our columnist David Wallace’s excellent preview of the match:

“The Lions have to go out and grab the game by the scruff of the neck, cut out the loose kicks and get the ball in the arms of the big players. I felt, before the team selections this week, that the Lions were on a losing curve but Gatland has thrown enough changes at it and it remains to be seen if it will benefit them.

It is so tight that I may not make a call until the last possible minute. Australia are the slight favourites and it might come down to a piece of magic from either Israel Folau or George North, the two players that have really lit up the series. I know who I’ll be cheering for.”

Oh yeah, here’s my take. Lions win!


Sexton gets this party started.

TRY! Lions 7-0 Australia (Corbisiero ’1)

Great start. Genia knocks on from the start. Early Oz engagement. Phillips takes the quick-tap. Bowe held up a yard short. Comes into the centre. AW Jones bounces off the posts but Corbisiero makes no mistake. Halfpenny converts.

Aussies coming back and Genia is almost through the gap after a big Roberts tackle. O’Brien grapples him to the ground. HUGE head on head clash between George Smith and Hibbard. The Welshman back on his toes but Smith is hobbling off.

Lions survive a messy scrum in their 22. Ball booted to halfway and Lydiate earns a penalty on halfway with help from Sean O’Brien. These boys are pumped. As for that try, Conor Murray enjoyed it:

PEN: Lions 10-0 Australia (Halfpenny ’10)

50 metres out, straight in the centre. Halfpenny has the range this time. Poite then awards a penalty to the home side for AW Jones blocking Douglas as Faletau gathered the restart.

PEN: Lions 10-3 Australia (Leali’ifano ’9)

The inside centre takes a bit of turf but over it goes. Nice response from the Wallabies before Faletau fumbles the restart forward.

Big penalty won by the Lions on the scrum. Benn Robinson penalised. Another penalty coming up from 40 metres out.

PEN: Lions 13-3 Australia (Halfpenny ’11)

That man Leigh, slightly to the left of the posts, thumps it over. Great start by the Lions. They claim the start, roll a useful maul but Poite says they did not use the ball quick enough and the Aussies get a scrum.

PEN: Lions 16-3 Australia (Halfpenny ’15)

This is getting ugly! The Aussies scrum are getting butchered. Up Alexander pops. G’wan Corbisiero, you gluten intolerant legend! Just outside the 22 and over it goes.

Aussies are way offside as the Lions attack up the right but Poite punishes them for holding on. Leali’ifano could have went for three but the opt to hit the line. Horwill claims and the move spreads out to the right before North dumps Falou on his hind quarters.

‘Ah Izzy, we meet again.’

Great stuff from Parling in the midfield as Phillips is double-teamed. Lions retain and Sexton pumps a big kick up the line. Aussies get the ball back but are finding no way through yet. Kick exchange goes wrong as Kurtley Beale slices out a kick. 22 minutes gone.

Jonathan Davies earning his keep here. Great kick into the corner but the crazy Aussies run it out but O’Brien steals. Two simple knock-ons on the Aussie 22 [mistakes OR tactic?] and the Aussies will have a scrum on their 22, right in front of the posts.

Yellow card for Ben Alexander!

Another penalty for the Lions coming up. That’s four knock-ons in the Aussie danger-zone. Are the Lions showing butter fingers on purpose?

PEN: Lions 19-3 Australia (Halfpenny ’25)

Simple enough effort from 25 metres out and over it pops. If they can accumulate another three or six points they’ll be in the box seat.

Smart stuff from Sexton as he places his foot on the endline and James O’Connor’s kick goes horribly wrong. Scrum inside the Aussie half because of that.

BIG NEWS: Israel Folau is off, injured. Jesse Mogg comes on.

Lions keeping the ball with the forwards and ramming through the phases. Finally they get into the 22. Ball doled back to Sexton for the drop goal but it goes left and wide.

Richard Hibbard is not only putting his body on the line but his head too. Maniac. Treatment for the second time. Lions winning the possession battle 64% to 36% so far. So good to see them finally showing what they can do.

Great tap tackle by Geoff Parling to get Jesse Mogg on the turf and end a threatening attack.

Sexton with a sliced clearance but Bowe comes to the rescue with a great leap and take. North penalised for holding on, though, after Davies and Halfpenny get in each other’s way. Penalty chance spurned as the Aussies look for a try before half-time.

Lydiate has been impressive around the fringes. O’Brien is penalised for a high tackle on AA Cooper and the Wallabies choose to go for the line again. They are snubbing three-pointers but need to get a try before the break.

Lions seem happy to give away penalties now because they know the Aussies won’t take three. It happens again, for a fifth time.

Big couple of minutes here as the Aussies are camped on the Lions line. Scrum coming up at the 5m line. If they get a good shunt on it could be a penalty out and HT.

Re-set. Poite gives out instructions. Re-set again. Corbisiero versus Kepu right under Poite’s nose.

TRY: Lions 19-10 Australia (O’Connor ’41)

Crud. James O’Connor gets through a powderpuff Sexton tackle attempt, dodges O’Brien and crashes over. Leali’ifano taps over.


For the second time in three Tests, Jonathan Sexton is at fault for a try. Just what the Australians wanted but fear not… yet.

JO’C cuts inside Sexton’s left shoulder and barrels over.

Here’s a snippet from our Toronto-based rugby expert, David Elkin:

What a half of rugby. Australia are just so resilient to come back and get that try. The performance of the Lions pack was pure power throughout. Utterly dominant in the scrum and getting go forward ball like they haven’t seen all series. O’Brien has been key to that, clearing the breakdown area efficiently. James O’Connor is not an international standard fly-half, but what he is is a world-class winger, and he showed it with that finish. Great captaincy by Horwill to keep going for it, I thought it would be the losing of the match, though.”

Your favourite American-born, English rugby prop and mine, Alex Corbisiero. (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)


Arse to that. Restart, Aussie ball. Penalty conceded by the Lions. Here comes Christian.

PEN: Lions 19-13 Australia (Leali’ifano ’41)

Over it goes. That six-point gap that did for the Lions last week. That Sexton missed drop goal and tackle proving costly at the moment.

PEN: Lions 19-16 Australia (Leali’ifano ’46)

Another penalty goes to the Wallabies. All that good work going to waste. Poite and his touch judge missed two clear-as-day offsides before a Will Genia chip forward. Pressure is on, penalty conceded. 25 metres out and over it goes.

OK, good stuff. Nice kick and chase by Sexton. He wrests Beale to the floor. JO’C boots out but Lions get a lineout inside the Aussie 22. BUT Parling knock-on. Scrum coming up. Going backwards but the Aussies get it out quickly.

Tom Youngs on for Hibbard.

Another clear, CLEAR penalty not awarded to the Lions. Mowen in from the side and off his feet. Poite just watches it unfold and waves play on. Lions retain the ball. They need a score of any description. Bowe beats Beale but Horwill drags him down.

PEN: Lions 22-16 Australia (Halfpenny ’51)

Big penalty won on the scrum and the whole Lions pack can take the credit for that. 30 metres out and the Welsh fullback thwacks it over. Conor Murray on for Mike Phillips.

Halfpenny is needed to dive on a dangerous Beale grubber kick after some suspect crossing in the midfield. Great stuff from 1/2p in defence. Aussies coming back. If only the Lions had a similar spark in attack as the Green & Gold have – Beale, Genia and now Mogg.

Faletau with a big steal and turnover inside the Lions 22. Sexton fronts up with a brave as hell chip up the line. North takes it on the charge and he feeds Davies, who gets wrangled over the touchline. Defence to attack. Brilliant stuff.

56 minutes gone as O’Brien and Faletau get treatment. Big cut for the Lions No.8 over the eye. Tipuric on as a blood replacement as Dan Cole replaces Adam Jones.

Lions go through the phases on the Oz 22. Poor old Jamie Roberts has hardly featured.

TRY? TMO coming up…

TRY! Lions 29-16 Australia (Sexton ’57)

Super break up the left and Davies and Halfpenny are big, big heroes. They slip in Sexton who finishes it off. Boom! Halfpenny adds the extras. That move was all started by a line-break from Tommy Bowe.

OK, into the last 20 minutes. As Faletau comes off, O’Brien is finally able to be replaced by Tipuric. Youngs botches a big lineout in the Lions 22 and the Aussies are deep in the redzone.

Poite brings play back for a penalty on the line. Quick-tap and Smith is inches short.

Corbisiero! Tries to play out on his on line and gets the pass off to Halfpenny. He boots it out but hits the line rather than going straight upfield. Aussies back on the 22 now. 63 minutes gone.

Yessiree! Aussies caught holding on at the breakdown. Great defence from the Lions and the camera focuses on Parling. Beale has switched to outhalf.

Sexton subbed off for Farrell and he is disgusted with the call. Open show of displeasure.

TRY! Lions 34-16 Australia (North ’64)

Halfpenny beats Genia and Leali’ifano before offloading to North, on the charge. He races up the left and dots down. Halfpenny misses the conversion but it shouldn’t matter.

Here’s the moment the cherry was put on top. North touches down.

Player of the Test Series, George North.

Here comes the first Scotsman to play on the Lions Test Series, Richie Gray. 13 minutes to go.

TRY! Lions 41-16 Australia (Roberts ’68)

It’s getting ugly.  Murray feeds Roberts, coming in at an angle off the lineout. He races clear to dive over. Halfpenny adds the extras.

What’s the craic on the bench? Well, Christian Wade has an afro comb and Rob Kearney & Brian O’Driscoll are loving it:

Lions Test Series winners? Looks a lot like it.

Here’s another picture of our boy BO’D on the bench:

Zebo and Cuthbert look pretty chuffed too.

Seven minutes to go and the Aussies can’t get any momentum for a late score. Scrum lost. Tuilagi is on the pitch now too. Warren Gatland is going to be at his smug best at the final whistle. We’ll give it to him for another week.

Might be meeting that guy further down the line as the All Black coach.

Hugs in the coach’s box as the coaching laddies head off to the sidelines. The Wallabies have taken a beating today. Sky Sports presenters loving it as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is echoed around the ANZ Stadium. Come on you Irish contingent, gets ‘Fields’ going.

Three minutes to go and the 24-year wait to win a Lions Series in Australia is almost over.

Hugs on the bench for the players from Gatland. Halfpenny named man-of-the-match. Jamie Roberts in tears. Lions pressing for one last score. Lineout 5m out. Here comes the 12-man lineout…

Trying to stick the knife in. 30 seconds to go. Chip over the top but Bowe spills. Hooter goes.


Congratulations to that bunch of legends down in Sydney. AW Jones and Horwill shake hands and wink at each other.

Gatland’s gambles pay off. Roberts was the quietest of the backline but even he came though at the end. Player of the Series has to be George North, the big red machine.

From Dave, in Canada:

A complete match by the Lions. Their back play had not clicked in the tests until the second half today. When the pressure was on, suddenly the combinations started to work and the players started to back themselves to break the line and offload. That’s the most satisfying thing – Australia brought it right back to 16-19 and the Lions’ responded with some scintillating lines in the back line and blew them away. Finally, the back three showed their potential to break the line and offload with precision and time their runs.

The forwards were the bedrock of the victory though. The Lions actually forced their dominance that we thought they had pre-Tour, and it was quite an awesome display of scrummaging. All the pre-game selection furore seems insignificant when the forwards play like that and The Lions have a kicker like Halfpenny.

What a win. What a series.

What did you make of all that?

I’ll sign off from the liveblog now but stay with us for all the post-match comments, reactions and opinion.

I’m looking forward to watching the ‘Lions heroes on 2013’ DVD [or whatever the future holds] in the year 2029! Cheers for the company. Go Lions!

Full-time score: Lions 41-16 Australia

About the author:

Patrick McCarry