COACH Andy Farrell has attempted to rouse the British and Irish Lions following Saturday’s narrow second Test defeat to Australia by billing this week’s decider as “the biggest game of our lives”.
The tourists could have clinched their first series victory of this century in Melbourne, had full-back Leigh Halfpenny, normally a dead-eyed kicker, slotted a last-minute penalty from halfway.
Instead Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try five minutes from time proved the decisive moment as the hosts claimed a 16-15 win and set up a colossal, winner-takes-all clash in Sydney on Saturday.
“The reality is that it’s 1-1 after two good teams have gone at it hammer and tongs. We’re both still in the race,” said Farrell, head coach Warren Gatland’s assistant.
“I’m proud of the way we stuck at it. We were lucky to get away with a win in the first game, and in the second game we could have won. After those two games, 1-1 is a fair way to look at the series.
“We all realise it is the biggest game of our lives and we’ll see what comes of it. I wouldn’t say Australia are in the driving seat; I’d say they’re very pleased. It was do or die for them, and they rose to the challenge.”
The Lions seem likely to be deprived of captain Sam Warburton for the third Test, after he had to be helped from the field in the 68th minute having sustained a hamstring injury.
But Australia are also expected to be without their skipper, James Horwill, who faces a second hearing into claims he stamped on Lions forward Alun Wyn Jones in the first Test. A verdict is due today.