Rugby - Proud Wallabies relish one tiny moment of victory

The British and Irish Lions spoke forlornly of how you can never write Australia off after defeat in the second test on Saturday and there was considerable pride in the Wallabies camp at the manner of their victory.

Reuters

Although Leigh Halfpenny's missed penalty after the hooter had sounded was decisive, Adam Ashley-Cooper's try and the conversion from his fellow centre Christian Leali'ifano a few minutes from time gave Australia the 16-15 win.

The patience shown by the Wallabies, who trailed 15-9 and were heading for a series defeat, to go through the phases on the Lions line and create the space for Ashley-Cooper to go over was reminiscent of the All Blacks at their best.

Coach Robbie Deans spoke of his pride at his team's composure and lock James Horwill, who has led the side when fit since just before the 2011 World Cup, was not about to disagree.

"The guys always keep fronting up, no matter what's happening, what the score's doing," he said. "And as a captain of a team you couldn't ask for anything more of a group.

"The attitude and character of a group is something you can't coach, you can't sit on a training field and say this is what you've got to do to show character and attitude.

"That's something that comes from within and it's very pleasing to see how much it means.

"They're intense games. You can tell by the scoreboard - two points and one point - there's not a lot in it and it comes down to those critical moments.

"And that's what big games of test match footy is. These are intense big battles and it comes down to one tiny moment, and you saw that tonight."

The Welsh members of the Lions squad know all about losing to Australia by narrow margins having succumbed 3-0 in an incredibly tough series last year.

Horwill missed that series with a hamstring injury and could yet be forced to sit out the series decider in Sydney next week after being cited for foul play in the first test.

"It'll be close again next week I'm predicting," he added. "There'll be one or two points in it. Both teams are pretty evenly matched, we're feeling each other out ..."

Ashley-Cooper injured his knee but Deans said he thought he would be fit for the third test - a welcome bit of news after he lost two backs to injury last week.

Deans was frustrated that his patched-up backline had not managed to show their full potential but did warn they would only get better.

"We're getting there," he said. "We're making small steps. You look for opportunities and hope for when you get your hands on the ball. We didn't get our hands on the ball much.

"It was a frustrating game to watch, as it probably was to play."

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