After the marginal and somewhat underwhelming first two Lions tests, few were expecting an epic finale in Sydney. But a showdown it turned out to be, with the home nation predators snatching a victory from the hosts to secure their first series win since 1997.
The final score, 41-16 was in itself historic: the highest points tally achieved by the Lions in any game to date, and the second highest win margin in the tournament’s history. The victory emphatically silenced the many Gatland doubters following his controversial selections announcement earlier in the week. Looks like Gatland is a genius after all!
But despite the convincing final score line, it was certainly not a walk in the park for the Lions. Although an early fumble by Australia’s talisman, Genia, allowed Corbisiero to roll over the try-line to give the Lions an immediate and encouraging boost, the start of the second half did not offer such comfortable viewing for fans, as the Lions saw their nine point lead clawed back to just three. The Wallabies’ confidence at this juncture was rightly high, but their arrogant refusal to take their chances for goal proved fatal, halting their momentum on the scoreboard.
An opportune tap-tackle by Parling prevented what would have been a decisive try, and proved to be a pivotal moment in the game.
What followed was a collapse on an industrial scale, with two successive tries from Sexton and North (both ably assisted by man of the match (and tournament), hotshot Leigh Halfpenny), putting the Lions leagues ahead of their rivals. A final flourish by Dr Roberts sealed Australia’s fate, giving the Lions a legendary win on the 125th anniversary of the tournament’s inception.
As George R.R. Martin aptly said:
In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
a lion still has claws.
And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
as long and sharp as yours.
The series win really was nothing short of spectacular, and demonstrated the resolve and solidarity of our great home nations. No doubt will we see some of the Lions making an appearance in this year’s honours list in recognition of their awe-inspiring victory.
THE LIONS DID ROAR