Brian O’Driscoll and Sam Warburton defiant in defeat
Leaders look to next week to put things right in series finale in Sydney
Brian O’Driscoll watches as teammate Leigh Halfpenny (right) fails in an attempt at a late penalty against the Australia at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters
Brian O’Driscoll of the Lions takes on James O’Connor of the Wallabies in Melbourne, Australia. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images
Brian O’Driscoll could scarcely contain his disappointment after the British and Irish Lions slipped to an agonising 16-15 defeat in the second test against Australia but insisted afterwards the series is not over yet.
The Lions were on course for a first series triumph since 1997 as they led for most of the match in Melbourne and had a chance to snatch the win with a 50-metre penalty with the last act of the game. However, like Australia’s Kurtley Beale did last weekend as the Lions snatched a dramatic 23-21 win in Brisbane, Leigh Halfpenny could not convert and the home side were able to tie the series and set up a grandstand finale in Sydney next Saturday.
O’Driscoll admitted the Lions were a “bit loose”, telling on Sky Sports 1: “Obviously we’re very disappointed. We were ahead in the leaderboard, we got six points clear, that’s a horrible margin, a converted try and you’re behind.
“They battled away and, we were a bit loose with aspects of our game and gave them opportunities to build the platform to get their score.”
However, the veteran centre also insisted: “It’s very disappointing but it’s not over. “We’ve got one massive week next week, both from a mental point of view and a physical point of view to get ourselves right for Saturday in Sydney.
“We knew it was never going to come easy and they made it tough on us.”
Of next weekend’s decider, the Irishman added: “It’s huge, the momentum from this game is with them but we won’t let that phase us, we’ll dig deep. “We were able to beat them once and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do it again if we can get our game right.”
Captain Sam Warburton was also in defiant mood.
“We’re going through what Australia went through last week. It’s disappointing now, but I think the boys will wake up tomorrow and realise that we’ve still got a Test series up for grabs. And we’ve got every chance of doing that. We have to pick ourselves back up now, and there’s some good stuff in there. We’re definitely capable of taking the Test series, we’ve shown that for two games.
“It’s going to be won be a whisker next week, and I hope it’s us.”
He added: “We can still achieve our dream, it’s still alive. I know fans at home will be disappointed but it’s game on for next week. Once we’ve got over this defeat, I know the boys will be flying into next weekend with every hope and chance of winning the Test series.”
Warburton limped out of the action late on with what looked like a hamstring injury and the Lions now face a nervy wait to see if he will be fit to lead the team out next weekend. Asked about the injury, the Welshman said: “Not sure, I felt something in my hammy so I’ve had some ice on it already. The physios will assess it in 24 hours’ time and fingers crossed from there.”
Australia were trailing 15-9 heading into the final five minutes but they snatched the lead after Adam Ashley-Cooper went over for a try nervelessly converted by his midfield partner Christian Leali’ifano.
Ashley-Cooper was delighted with his match-winning score but rather than take the plaudits himself preferred to praise his side for their never-say-die attitude and self-belief.
“It was really important to retain that belief, obviously six points down there was a lot of frustration out there, because possession was letting us down and ball security, but in the end test match football is about grinding it out and going to the 80th minute and fortunately for us we were able to get the points,” he said.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this team, I’m proud to score a try and obviously make the difference tonight, but it’s not about me, it’s about the team, holding on in there for 80 minutes and getting the result and taking it to the final in Sydney.
“It’s really going to make for a cracking final in Sydney.”