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AP Photo/Rob Griffith Adam Ashley Cooper and Israel Folau celebrate the winger's first try.
# Gutted
Lions rematch can't come fast enough for Wallaby scoring star Israel Folau
The Australian winger claimed the man-of-the-match award and two tries yet still lost on debut.

IT WAS NOT as if the Lions were not warned — Will Genia and Israel Folau were the men to watch. Forget about James O’Connor, Digby Ioane and Berrick Bernes, the Wallaby 9 and 14 were the men to really watch.

There was no need to fret about Christian Leali’ifano after the centre was stampeded by Jonathan Davies after 35 seconds. Game over for Christian but just the beginning of a double-time shift for the stretcher-bearers. The early stages of the match unfolded as many would have predicted — Lions winning scrums but scratching heads after breakdown calls went against them.

The Lions were dominant in the opening 10 minutes but were left ruing a chance to go for the posts with ref Chris Pollock playing advantage. The ball was turned over in the Wallaby 22, Genia plucked, hared away from the off-colour [tan] Mike Phillips and was away. His excellent grubber kick bobbled nicely for Folau and Australia celebrated.

The rugby league convert pounced again when hometown boy Ben Mowen popped a pass and set him as free as a man can be with three opponents homing in for a tackle. The winger stepped inside Jonny Sexton at the last moment and left Alex Corbisiero and Tom Croft in his wake.

If James O’Connor had brought his kicking boots it would have been 20-13 at the break but, instead, the home side trailed by a point. They could have won by a point at the death by Kurtley Beale was the man missing goal-kicks at that stage.

Man-of-the-match Folau said, “I’m pleased with my personal performance but very disappointed by the result. We get the chance next week to turn that around. The injuries hurt us in the end and it’s something you don’t train for. Unfortunately it worked out that way but we’ve got to be ready for that and, tonight, the Lions were too good.” Asked about his tries, the debutant replied:

I guess I was lucky that Willie was skilled enough to get that kick away and I was in the right spot at the right time to get to that one. I was very pumped to get that second one. I just had to back myself and, luckily, I got over.”

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Openside Michael Hooper, who was drafted into the backline as inside centre for the final 30 minutes of the game, backed teammate Kurtley Beale to bounce back from his penalty slip in the final minute. He said, “You’re going to have those ones you’ll get and those ones you’ll miss. About 10 minutes before that he made that break to put us in that position so you take the good with the bad.

YouTube credit: ARU TV

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