Aussies kicking themselves

Australia missed five kicks at goal in losing 23-21 to the British and Irish Lions in Brisbane.

Replacement fullback Kurtley Beale twice had the chance to win the Test for Australia in the last three minutes but on both occasions he missed. The first kick was from 25 metres and nearly in front. The second was from 40 metres but right in front. Neither came close.

Beale had kicked two earlier penalties but his last two misses negated his early contribution.

James O’Connor, at flyhalf, struggled with his all-round play and his goalkicking. He missed two penalties and a conversion.

Leigh Halfpenny, who had missed just one goalkick on tour, succeeded with five from six.

It was a fantastic Test match, in terms of entertainment and counter attack.

Australian winger Israel Folau was sensational, scoring two tries on his Test debut and Will Genia showed his class at scrumhalf. George North, for the Lions, was equally effective and scored one of the great individual tries in Lions history.

The Wallabies out of hand kicking was poor in comparison to that of the Lions, but there must be huge applause given to both teams for the manner in which each was prepared to counter attack.

The match lived up to all the hype. It had the intensity of a World Cup final and it had all the drama of one-off finals.

The Lions looked the more composed but Australia were outstanding at the breakdown and the hosts also stunned the Lions with their scrumming power in the last quarter.

The Australian forwards would have been celebrating a victory for their scrum effort had there been a recognised first choice goalkicker taking aim. Beale’s goalkicking is the weakest aspect of his game and while he has kicked the occasional match winner he isn’t a regular goalkicker.

Australia suffered because of the absence of a consistent marksman but they showed tremendous courage to be in a position to win the Test after losing both Test centres to injury and replacement centre Pat McCabe to injury.

They also lost Berrick Barnes to injury and flanker Michael Hooper played the last 30 minutes at inside centre. Replacement scrumhalf Nick Phipps was on the wing.

The Lions will celebrate the early advantage in the series but will also be mindful that in the last two visits to Australia the team winning the first Test ended up losing the series.