British and Irish Lions run up record points total as series is secured in Sydney
Last Updated: 06/07/13 10:19pm
The British and Irish Lions claimed their first series win for 16 years with a record 41-16 victory over Australia in Sydney.
The Lions raced into a 19-3 lead thanks to Alex Corbisiero's second-minute try and the ever-reliable boot of Leigh Halfpenny, then allowed the Wallabies to claw their way back to within three points early in the second half.
But superbly-worked tries for Jonathan Sexton and George North turned the game back in the tourists' favour and Jamie Roberts added some gloss to the scoreline - itself a record total for a Lions' Test - with the fourth try 11 minutes from time.
But this victory was built on a totally dominant scrum - the first four set-pieces yielded the Lions two penalties and two free kicks, which set the tone for the entire game.
The Lions were also ruthless from the first whistle - taking advantage of Will Genia's knock-on of the first kick-off, winning a free kick from the scrum and after Sean O'Brien almost got to the line, Corbisiero battered his way over by the upright.
Halfpenny added the extras and then a penalty for Joe Tomane not rolling away, but the Lions were offside at the re-start and Christian Lealiifano opened Australia's account.
The rest of the half was notable for the power of the Lions scrum and Australia's total inability to deal with Corbisiero and Adam Jones in the set-piece.
Halfpenny added three penalties and prop Ben Alexander was shown a yellow card by the excellent Romain Poite, as the tourists took what looked to be a winning grip on the game.
But Australia managed to hit back right on the hooter, putting a penalty into the corner for the fifth time and finally getting their reward as James O'Connor jinked his way past Sexton, O'Brien and Mike Phillips to go in by the posts. Lealiifano converted and despite their almost total dominance, the Lions' lead was just 19-10.
The second half started in similar fashion as Lealiifano chalked up another six points inside five minutes of the re-start.
Alarm bells were ringing with memories of so many previous Lions near-misses beginning to surface.
But at last the Lions found a clean break in the Australia half and Halfpenny was able to slip the ball to Sexton to go in under the posts.
Suddenly the Lions were rampant and when the irrepressible Halfpenny skipped around Genia and Tomane in midfield and put George North racing in at the corner, the celebrations could begin.
Roberts scythed through a tiring defence, finding a great angle to arrive on a superb flat pass from Conor Murray, although it was entirely fitting that the last action of note was another scrum penalty to the Lions.
This was a Test and a series won up front, providing a platform to allow the backline to finally demonstrate their attacking skills. It took 200 minutes of angst but the final 40 minutes of the tour was well worth the wait.
Lions v Australia, third Test 2013
Warren Gatland has admitted he would consider leading the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 2017.
Phil Vickery thinks the British & Irish Lions series in Australia is one of the greatest modern performances he has seen.
Brian O'Driscoll is delighted to be part of a winning British and Irish Lions series team