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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Australia break Lions' hearts
Third Test: Australia 29-23 Lions
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Australia claimed their first ever series win over the Lions with a thrilling victory in the deciding third Test at Sydney's Stadium Australia on Saturday.
Two penalties from Matthew Burke in the last 12 minutes of the series were the difference on the scoreboard, but the efforts of brilliant debutant Justin Harrison and veteran John Eales in the second row were equally telling for the world champion Wallabies.
The tourists will rue a ragged lineout performance and three relatively straightforward misses from the normally reliable boot of Jonny Wilkinson.
The Lions ended the game deep in enemy territory but were unable to force their way over for a dramatic victory.
A disappointed, but justifiably proud, Lions captain Martin Johnson summed up the squad's mood when he said: "It was a tremendous series, three great games of rugby and it came down to the last game.
"We've got no excuses, Australia deserved to win it. It's been a long hard tour and we came up just short.
"I'm sorry we didn't win but the players can be proud of themselves."
The Lions, trailing 16-13 at the break, made a dream start to the second half when Wilkinson wriggled over for a try after great work by the forwards.
The fly-half's conversion made it 20-16 to the Lions with only three minutes of the second half played.
His feeble kick was returned with interest by the Australians, and Toutai Kefu and Nathan Grey battered holes in the Lions' defence for Daniel Herbert to score his second try.
With the hosts now leading 23-20, the Lions were handed a major chance when Herbert flattened Brian O'Driscoll with a high tackle.
Wilkinson slotted the kick home to give the Lions parity at 23-23, but - in what would prove to be a pivotal phase of the game -they failed to take further advantage of Herbert's 10-minute spell in the sin bin.
The Wallabies ended a thrilling first half ahead 16-13, but the Lions will have gone to the dressing room knowing they should have done more with the greater possession they enjoyed.
Herbert's well-worked try just before the interval was the difference between the sides, but the Lions ended the first half camped on the Australia goal-line.
Full-blooded charges from Keith Wood and Rob Henderson were repulsed by desperate Australian tackling, but a penalty for offside enabled Wilkinson to reduce the arrears to just three points.
It was an important kick for the fly-half, as he had already missed two attempts at the posts that by his high standards were very kickable.
Australia's two-try hero from the second Test, Joe Roff, looked particularly lively, and the tourists were forced to make a number of telling tackles.
Burke and Wilkinson traded penalties to make the score 3-3, but the Lions continued to transgress at the breakdowns and Burke slotted over his second kick to give Australia a three-point lead after 11 minutes.
With Aussie spoiler George Smith to the fore, the Lions were struggling to recycle the ball, and another penalty for Burke was the result when Quinnell was punished for failing to release the ball.
Now 9-3 down, the Lions hit back with the first try of the game. Good work by the pack was followed by a delightful long pass from Wilkinson to Wood on the narrow side.
Wilkinson converted from the touchline to give the Lions a 10-9 lead with a quarter of the game gone.
But as the interval approached, Australia scored a superb try when wings Roff and Andrew Walker combined to put Herbert through near the posts. Burke slotted the simple conversion over.
It was not to be Herbert's or Burke's last contribution to the Australian cause.
Australia: 15-Matthew Burke; 14-Andrew Walker, 13-Daniel
Herbert, 12-Nathan Grey, 11-Joe Roff; 10-Elton Flatley, 9-George
Gregan; 8-Toutai Kefu, 7-George Smith, 6-Owen Finegan, 5-John
Eales (captain), 4-Justin Harrison; 3-Rod Moore, 2-Michael
Foley, 1-Nick Stiles.
Lions: 15-Matt Perry; 14-Dafydd James, 13-Brian O'Driscoll,
12-Rob Henderson, 11-Jason Robinson; 10-Jonny Wilkinson, 9-Matt
Dawson; 8-Scott Quinnell, 7-Neil Back, 6-Martin Corry, 5-Danny
Grewcock, 4-Martin Johnson (captain), 3-Phil Vickery, 2-Keith
Wood, 1-Tom Smith.
Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand).
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