15. Kurtley Beale – 7
Dropped a pass uncharacteristically with a glaring overlap at his mercy in the second half and struck the majority of his punts poorly, but also sparked danger plenty of times. Purposeful and poised at full back, he remains a brilliant attacking weapon and again took the reins a few times at first receiver quite nicely.
14. Israel Folau – 8
Did not manage the try-scoring fireworks of Brisbane in a terse encounter, but this was almost as impressive from Folau. His sensational aerial skills were showcased and he was more prominent, even used once by Will Genia down the blindside from a scrum. Poleaxed by Tom Youngs in the opening seconds and fireman’s-carried by George North, Folau still returned 90 metres from 11 carries – that says it all.
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper – 8.5
After sustaining a nasty-looking shoulder injury at Suncorp, Ashley-Cooper seemed certain to miss out, but returned to be the heartbeat of this Australia performance. Startled into life by Brian O’Driscoll’s big hit early on, he harried kick-offs relentlessly – defining how much more the Wallabies valued the ball – and was the most incisive midfield runner on display. Ashley-Cooper’s best attributes are unyielding desire and support play; it was coincidence he scythed over at the death.
12. Christian Leali’ifano – 7.5
It took considerable minerals to look unfazed by this seismic occasion just seven days after being knocked out cold, and Leali’ifano’s match-winning conversion demonstrated sub-zero composure. Even taking nerveless goal-kicking out of the equation, this was a measured outing that put the panicky option-taking of his more experienced opponents to shame.
11. Joe Tomane – 6
An early gather and gallop from a high ball got Tomane into the game, but he flitted in and out of it from then on. Grew shakier when Tommy Bowe began to time his chases right too, which was not ideal for his team. Still, off-loaded well and kept an over-worked defence honest.
10. James O’Connor – 5
Undoubtedly an evasive, effective runner and a decent defender, but O’Connor is not Australia’s answer at fly half. In fact, his game-management – blighted by blind-alleys and uncertainty – could have cost his team dearly. Bagged an assist for the winning try, but without O’Connor in the number 10 shirt, this series would already belong to the Robbie Deans.
9. Will Genia – 8
Even on one leg, Genia marshalled magnificently. Clearly hampered by a dodgy knee, he was within his electric best as a running threat, but compensated by mobilising his pack superbly. Also – perhaps illegally – helped perforate Lions’ platform by making a nuisance of himself at the base of the scrum.
1. Benn Robinson – 5.5
Well beaten by Adam Jones and so worn out by that exchange that his loose effort suffered. Having said that, Robinson racked up seven carries and six tackles – no shortage of effort.
2. Stephen Moore – 8
Ferociously physical at the breakdown and around the park to rack up the second-highest amount of tackles among the Australian side, Moore also hit his jumpers. Revels on the front line of these wars and clearly inspires those behind him to new levels. Overturned Tom Youngs’ ascendancy from last weekend and held firm when Richard Hibbard entered the fray as well.
3. Ben Alexander – 6
An odd one. After starting his 50th cap like a steam train and forcing two penalties out of Mako Vunipola, Alexander then proceeded to surrender at the scrum somewhat – even getting turned 180 degrees at one point to hand Leigh Halfpenny three points. Remains in credit thanks to the importance of those early efforts.
4. Kane Douglas – 5.5
Paradoxically unable to impose himself as much in the absence of Paul O’Connell, Douglas was less impressive here. Uncompromising as ever but clumsy enough to spill at two pivotal points – if James Horwill is handed a retrospective ban, Douglas needs to be better.
5. James Horwill – 7
The Wallaby skipper has become the undoubted villain of this tour, but he won’t care in the slightest. If this was the big Red’s last contribution to the series, his exemplary leadership – most palpable when scenting blood and opting to taking a scrum late in the piece – will be missed. If it was not, the Lions’ task is even tougher.
6. Ben Mowen – 7.5
Reminiscent of Justin Harrison 12 years ago in that his first Test steps have been so confident despite immense pressure, Mowen ran the lineout well – taking 8 of them – and was a tireless presence elsewhere. If Lions runners got isolated and he was lurking, it was curtains. However, half a point is deducted for getting on the wrong side of Joubert a couple of times.
7. Michael Hooper – 7.5
Lagged behind an inspired Sam Warburton for 66 minutes in a blockbuster breakdown battle, but grabbed the series by the scruff of the neck when his adversary’s hamstring went. Twelve tackles and 10 carries are testament to another all-action evening from the openside.
8. Wycliff Palu – 6
More visible than during an oddly underwhelming first Test, Palu asserted himself with some close-quarter rumbles. Still short of his most destructive, though, and one ill-judged off-load spared the Lions when they were on the ropes. Worryingly for Warren Gatland, he looks to be improving.
Sekopu Kefu and James Slipper looked steady enough after Dan Cole had made initial inroads, while Rob Simmons bolstered the hosts in the all-important forward exchanges. Rob Horne barely had time to make a meaningful impression, but the star of the show was Liam Gill, whose livewire ways were encapsulated in the lineout steal that broke the Lions’ hearts.
By Charlie Morgan
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images