Warburton says job is only half done after tight win
Welshman admits it was too close for comfort in Brisbane
Lions captain Sam Warburton celebrates at the final whistle after the 23-21 victory over Australia at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton declared it “half a job done” after his team nicked a 23-21 victory over Australia in Brisbane when Kurtley Beale missed a penalty in the final moments of the game.
The Lions’ performance was highlighted by an outstanding try from George North but there were plenty of nervous moments, with Beale missing not one but two penalty kicks in the final few minutes as the Lions clung to a two-point lead.
“That was entertaining, that’s for sure,” said Warburton. “It was too close for comfort and the last 20 minutes were really hard. You have to give it to Australia, they went all the way and we’ll expect a lot more in the next two Test matches. It’s half a job done.”
Hearts were in mouths when Beale lined up a penalty from long range in the dying seconds, but he slipped as he kicked and the ball fell short of its target as Lions celebrations began.
“It was like with Wales all over again,” said Warburton. “It’s out of your control when there’s a kick to the other team in the last minute.
“There’s massive delight to get the first win and get some momentum, and to get the ball rolling. We’ll look forward to next week now.”
Australia struck first with Israel Folau crossing the line after a superb move from Will Genia but the Lions kept plugging away and the kicking of Leigh Halfpenny before North’s moment of brilliance put them on top.
“They came out very well in the first 20 minutes which is what we expected,” Warburton said.
“It was a very quick first 20 minutes but we weathered the storm and put points on the board, and then it was to and fro.
“The sides are pretty even and that showed there as it went down to the last 10 seconds.”
North’s moment of magic came when he gathered Berrick Barnes’s kick 10 metres inside his own half, and then set off on a remarkable run that saw him beat three defenders before showboating in Genia’s face and touching down for one of the great Lions tries.
“I think it’s called panic running,” the Scarlets winger said. “It was just a case of run, run, run and run and hopefully the gaps will open.”
Momentum continued to go this way and that, and Lions coach Warren Gatland admitted his team needed to do a better job of game management.