15. Kurtley Beale – 7
This was a worthy effort in defeat from Beale, who has done a hugely admirable job of putting personal demons aside to return some good performances this series. Here he was extremely sparky in attack, freeing Mogg in the first half with deft off-load before a sumptuous chip-and-gather as the Wallabies looked ominous after the break. One horror slice was a rare mistake.
14. Israel Folau – N/A
Only lasted 27 minutes before his hamstring went and had a mixed time until then, carrying with characteristic power and clearing well but being dumped by George North again.
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper – 5.5
The True Blue trier gave everything once more, making nine tackles and some decent gains from his limited chances to carry. An off-load into the hands of Sean O’Brien was ghastly, though, and would almost certainly have cost his team more dearly were it not for Tommy Bowe’s knock-on.
12. Christian Leali’ifano – 6
Clever and composed, Leali’ifano would surely have been a better option at fly half than James O’Connor in terms of game management. Kicked his goals unflappably and defended soundly in a crowded midfield until missing three tackles in the second period – all in the lead-up to tries.
11. Joe Tomane – 5
Being totalled by Dan Lydiate and penalised from the ensuing ruck was not an ideal start to such a seismic match, and Tomane’s evening did not get all that better, although there was one sprightly grubber down the right touchline and a clever blocking line for O’Connor’s score. Beaten too easily by Halfpenny ahead of North’s try.
10. James O’Connor – 6
Confirmed what everybody already knew – that he is a talented rugby player but not a fly half, something that is accentuated at Test level with decisions such as a first-half cross-kick. Still, showcased the considerable running skills at various points, not least while jinking through the Lions for his try. Distribution and punting – one that went too far aside – were pretty good as well.
9. Will Genia – 6
Split the first kick-off to set a dismal tone for Australia and found Halfpenny with a tired clearance prior to North’s try, but had a typically influential match around the fringes to drag his side back into contention. The undoubted heartbeat of the Wallabies throughout the series and has a vital role to play in helping them recover from this catastrophic set-back.
1. Benn Robinson – 3
This time industry in the loose could not paper over the crack at the scrum, which actually grew into vast chasms that swallowed the hosts’ hopes. Totally man-handled by Adam Jones as the set-piece decided matters.
2. Stephen Moore – 5
Must take some of the scrum blame on his broad shoulders, but once more contributed gamely around the park, proving to be a nuisance at the breakdown and at close quarters as he has for the last three weekends. Came off for the first to end a run of successive 80-minute shifts – can be proud of his work.
3. Ben Alexander – 2
Almost cruel to give him a rating at all. Simply monstered by an inspired Alex Corbisiero, Alexander endured a nightmare at ANZ Stadium before Romain Poite ended his involvement with a merciful yellow card that paved the way for Robbie Deans to introduce Sekope Kefu. Won’t want many reminders of a dreadful decider.
4. Kane Douglas – 4
Could not replicate first Test muscle as part of a pack that were bullied at close quarters, touching the ball once prior to being placed just after an hour. Did make eight tackles, but must improve drastically to retain his spot during the Rugby Championship.
5. James Horwill – 4
Seemed oddly absent-minded, shunning shots at goal in pursuit of tries – not the way to go as the Lions demonstrated (cynical wise-crackers might put that down to a guilt-wracked head). Again, must take a portion of responsibility for the scrum, but made 12 tackles without missing one and was reliable at the lineout.
6. Ben Mowen – 6.5
A serious contender for Australia’s player of the series roused another strong showing, inciting memories of Brisbane at times with his harrying of Mike Phillips. The top tackler in the entire match, characteriscally awkward to budge at the breakdown and subtly skillful at lineout-time. Mowen has bright Test future.
7. George Smith – 5.5
There was no fairytale as Nelson struck to ruin Smith’s 111th cap. Should not have been allowed to re-join the fray following a sickening clash of heads with Richard Hibbard, and had a minimal impact on the breakdown, where Sean O’Brien was better. Pretty ridiculous decision to expose him to Test match intensity from the start when Michael Hooper had been impressive in the previous pair of encounters.
8. Wycliff Palu – 5
Comprehensively out-played by the excellent Toby Faletau, but had a horrible job at the back of a scrum that was on roller-skates. Did not really assert himself in attack aside from one rumble off the back of a lineout, but worked hard to make 13 tackles.
Jesse Mogg’s Test debut was the success story here, the Brumbie’s electric speed suggested he might have offered more than Tomane. Kefu was more effective than Alexander – which, granted, is not saying a great deal – and Michael Hooper offered typical energy.
By Charlie Morgan
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images