In the end it was a demolition. After two closely fought tests, the third and deciding Test in Sydney was won by the 2013 British & Irish Lions by 41 to 16. In winning the series 2-1, the Lions won their first series since South Africa in 1997. Gatland’s gamble paid off, and his coaching reputation will now be greatly enhanced.
This match was won up front. The Lions forwards destroyed the Australian scrum. Remarkably, of the 13 scrums in the game, the Lions won the 10 on their own put-in, but also won the 3 on the Australian put-in. But this only gives half the story, the Aussie scrum was repeatedly penalised, and the Lions were able to kick several penalties from these infractions. Additionally, the Wallaby prop Ben Alexander was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for repeatedly collapsing the scrum.
With seconds left of the first half the Lions were 19-3 ahead, but then the Wallabies scored a well-earned try to go into the break 10-19 down. Within minutes of the restart they had fought back to 16-19, and it looked like the Wallabies were going to come back and steal the series as they did in 2001.
But, having worn down the Wallaby forwards in the first half, it was now the Lions backs’ turn to utilise the good quick ball the forwards were providing. Halfpenny, the man of the series, set up two tries for Jonathan Sexton and George North respectively. By the time Jamie Roberts ran in the Lions’ fourth try the match and the series were long since decided. All that was left was to start celebrating a remarkable series win.
Provocatively, Gatland has already said that he’d relish coaching the Lions on their next tour in 2017, which will be to his native New Zealand. Whether he will still be the head coach of Wales by then we shall have to wait and see. His current contract with Wales is until after the World Cup in October 2015. I am sure the offers to coach elsewhere will start flooding in, and Wales will do well to hang on to him.
I took this video of the last few minutes of the game and some of the post-match celebration.
The Lions’ record since the 2nd World war
As the table in the screen capture above shows, this is the first series win the Lions have had since beating South Africa in 1997. In fact, this is only the fifth series win the Lions have had in 18 tours the Lions have made since the 2nd World war.
|1950||New Zealand||0-3 (1 draw)||Lost|
|1962||South Africa||1-3 (1 draw)||Lost|
|1968||South Africa||1-3 (1 draw)||Lost|
|1971||New Zealand||3-1 (1 draw)||Won|
|1974||South Africa||3-0 (1 draw)||Won|