No matter about Australia’s bad luck, Robbie Deans must now pick up the pieces
One missed kick marked the thin line between failure and success
Robbie Deans, coach of the Wallabies shakes hands with Israel Folau after losing the First Test against the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Caxton Street is the pub-lined road that links Suncorp Stadium with the city of Brisbane. It is not the Champs Élysées, nor is it Park Avenue. It is tacky and dirty but not cheap. The publicans’ prices were outrageously high as they reaped in a once-in-12-year harvest. On Saturday, Caxton Street was an ocean of red that sang, clapped and cheered for hour upon hour before the game. Then, under the gaze of a full silver moon, the sea moved like a tide, to fill the upper tiers of Suncorp. Then two hours latter, the Red Sea amazingly flowed back to fill every nook and cranny of every pub in western Brisbane.
There was plenty of humour and humble pie served up to the locals but not one cross word. The Lions supporters were a great advertisement for all that is good about rugby. In so many ways It was a special day, on and off the park.
The event was so highly anticipated that I doubted it could live up to the expectation. I was wrong. “Brisvegas” defied the meteorologists’ predictions of rain and switched on a warm, clear and sunny day. Brisbane was at its big country town best.
The Wallabies followed that same theme and defied the predictions that they would be Christians thrown to the Lions of 2013. They were brave and courageous beyond words. The Lions should have won the game by a considerable margin. As it stands, the best team on the day lost.
Dared to win
With Michael Hooper playing most of the second half at inside centre, the Lions should have created many more scoring opportunities. To everyone’s astonishment in the latter stages, the Lions were twice driven off the ball on their own scrum feed. More than any other action in the match, that reflected the Wallaby attitude. They were beaten, and not only did they refused to submit, they fought back and dared to win.
I can’t recall a Test match in which four backs left the field injured. The disruption this must have created in the Wallaby performance can not be overstated. Nor should we understate the enormity of their response.
How Australia stayed in touch with a Lions team so vastly superior in talent and preparation can only be described emotively. Technique and tactics did not keep them in the game. Heart, courage and sheer bloody minded determination was produced in bucket loads.
Rarely do teams that show such fortitude lose. That tells you how talented the Lions are. Will Genia produced one of the finest performances I have witnessed by a Wallaby scrumhalf. He was the best player on the field by a country mile. Israel Folau was the biggest story for the journalists, but Genia was immense.