Australia won the second test in Melbourne by the narrowest of margins, 16-15. Five penalties from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny for the Lions were not enough to beat the Wallabies, who kicked 3 penalties and got a converted try. The converted try, by the centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, took the Wallabies from trailing by 9 points to 15 into a one point lead at 16-15. But there were still some 5 minutes on the clock.
Just like last week, the result came down to the last kick of the match. This time it was the Lions who had the chance to steal victory. Halfpenny had a 53 metre penalty kick at goal, but it fell short giving Australia the victory.
In my opinion Australia looked by far the better team. It seemed to me that the Lions were content to just play for position and wait for Australia to concede penalties. I don’t remember the Lions making a single line break, and they never looked like threatening the Australian try line.
In contrast, Australia tried to play rugby. Their backline were far more creative, and as the game progressed full back Kurtley Beale started coming into the line more and more. Each time he did so he was a handful, his lines of running were so good.
So just like 12 years ago in 2001, it will all come down to the third and final test in Sydney this coming Saturday. As in 2001, the Lions have won the first test and Australia have won the second, although the margins in both have been tiny this time around. Although I am hopeful the Lions can win in Sydney, I feel Australia have looked the better team in both tests so far. It also worries me how little creativity the Lions showed in the second test.
Whether Gatland decides to start with Mike Phillips at scrum half will be an interesting and important decision. Many feel Phillips is a big-game player. He looked lack-lustre in the first test, but assuming he is fit for Saturday will Gatland go back to him or stick with Ben Youngs? We must also wait on the fitness of captain Sam Warburton, who suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and had to he helped off the pitch.
The momentum is with Australia, and the Lions have a huge task on their hands now to win the series. They are capable of it, but doing it is not going to be easy.