SPORT

British And Irish Lions Beat Australia 23-21 In First Test (PICTURES)

22/06/2013 12:59 BST | Updated 22/06/2013 22:52 BST
Getty
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: Kurtley Beale of the Wallabies slips over while kicking for goal during the First Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Suncorp Stadium on June 22, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The British and Irish Lions narrowly defeated Australia 23-21 after Kurtley Beale missed a last-minute penalty in an absorbing first Test match in Brisbane.

Replacement Beale slipped as he stepped up to take the 45 metre kick seconds prior to the final shrill in a dramatic and nerve-wracking finale.

Leigh Halfpenny's kicking was pivotal as compatriots George North and Alex Cuthbert scored tries for the visitors, who repeated the 2001 side's Brisbane win.

The Lions were reprieved in the opening 10 minutes when James O'Connor missed two early penalties but Australia eventually capitalised on their attacking start.

Ironically the Wallabies' first points registered came via a Lions attack. Will Genia led the breakaway from inside his 22 to the 60m mark and threaded through a perfect kick for Israel Folau, whose first international touch in rugby union was to pick up and saunter over for a try. O'Connor's conversion was routine.

Eventually the dependable Leigh Halfpenny kicked the Lions onto the scoresheet to lift Gatland's XV on 24 minutes and barely 60 seconds later they burst into the lead thanks to the electric George North.

israel folau

Folau breaks away to open the scoring

Berrick Barnes' woeful kick was collected by the grateful North on his own 10m line and the 21-year-old set off, waltzed past two men and the penitent Barnes before tauntingly speeding away from Genia for a world-class try. Halfpenny brilliantly converted from an acute 37m angle to extend the lead to 7-10.

Welshmen Halfpenny and North continued their duopoly of the Lions' points as the former struck his second penalty after Genia denied North a second try when the Norfolk-born winger's elbow hit the line before he could touch down.

However the imposing 6 ft 5 Folau pounced again four minutes later after Ben Mowen freed him down the right. Worryingly for Australia, the nervous O'Connor missed for a third time out of four out wide as they failed to regain their lead.

george north lions

Catch him if you can: North taunts Genia prior to scoring

Halfpenny finally came unstuck with the final kick of the half as the Lions' advantage remained a slender 12-13 at the interval.

O'Connor's mistake proved costly. Nine minutes into the second 40, Alex Cuthbert powered through two Australian barriers after Jonny Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll faultlessly combined to generate the opening and Halfpenny pinged the conversion between the posts.

The eight-point advantage was brief as O'Connor converted an easy penalty thanks to a Lions infringe from the restart as the match entered a reticent final half-hour.

Australia-Lions First Test

Australia Replacement Kurtley Beale and Halfpenny traded kicks prior to a Beale surge which threatened a fifth try of the game. The hosts had to settle for a penalty as the score stood at 21-23 with 10 minutes remaining.

Sexton's superb subtleties continued as he earned the tourists a valuable put-in for a scrum inside the Wallabies' 22 but it was shambolically executed.

A few minutes later Beale had the chance to kick Australia into the lead for the first time since they opened the scoring after Mako Vunipola went off his feet. Only he shanked his penalty horribly and the Lions' lead remained in tact.

Beale was granted a chance at redemption - and to win the match - by maligned referee Chris Pollock in the 80th minute, only he comically slipped approaching the final kick of the game.