THE British and Irish Lions went one up in the Test series in Brisbane last night despite a man-of-the-match performance from Wallabies debutant Israel Folau.
The Lions hung on for a gritty 23-21 win after replacement Wallabies kicker Kurtley Beale missed two penalties in the dying minutes, the second with 30 seconds left on the clock.
The aura surrounding the Lions was tarnished as the Wallabies hustled and bustled their way to an early lead and continually pressured the tourists when behind.
Folau opened the scoring in the 13th minute after brilliantly picking up a shin-high ball from a Will Genia kick and sprinting away from the closing defenders.
His second try was even better, Folau using brilliant footwork and speed to beating three closing defenders.
The Wallabies trailed 13-12 at the break and had their chances late in the second half to win the match, but paid the price for shocking kicking.
The two missed penalties by Beale in the dying minutes and two earlier penalty misses and a fluffed conversion by James O'Connor proved the difference.
Three Wallabies were stretchered off. Debutant Christian Leali'ifano was knocked out in the first tackle of the match, Berrick Barnes was knocked out in a head clash with Folau, and Pat McCabe injured his neck. As well, Adam Ashley Cooper has a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was shattered by the result and the injuries.
"It was really frustrating for the lads," he said. "Next week is must-win now."
One bright spot was Folau's debut.
"He showed he really warranted the chance he got," Deans said.
BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS 23 (G. North, A. Cuthbert tries, L. Halfpenny 2 cons, 3 pens) d
AUSTRALIA 21 (I. Folau 2 tries, J. O'Connor conv, pen, K. Beale 2 pens).
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